Isobel Stuart-Smith


Year of Birth 2002

Hometown Putney, London

Nationality British

College Trinity

Undergrad/Graduate Undergraduate

Year 1st

What are you studying? Physics

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? I have no plans for after my degree - I have only just got here!

Future ambitions? I would like to make a contribution to the field of physics.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? I make timetables for every day and I plan each week and month (some might say I am a bit obsessive about it).

When did you start rowing, and why? I started rowing four years ago. I enjoyed cross country and I had a close friend who encouraged me to take it up.

What was your first club? SPGSBC - St Paul’s Girls School Boat Club

What is your favourite part of rowing for Oxford? I love how the focus of the Boat Race binds the team together and concentrates the training.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? Winning Wallingford Regatta and Pairs Head in 2019 in my pair with Avery Louis has been my greatest achievement on paper. Although I think that the self confidence and inter personal skills I have learnt through my rowing career have been much greater. I have found a lot of strength in sport and I have surprised myself with my own determination. Starting rowing as a deaf, autistic, queer teenager, I was struggling a lot with finding my feet both socially and in my own identity. Rowing let me find my place and value within a team and develop the important inter-personal skills that would make me my best friends. I have learnt how to manage anxiety and perform on race day; skills which transfer to my personal and academic life very well. I have learnt (and am still learning) how to deal with unpredictability and how to think more flexibly in the face of uncertainty, especially relevant in the past year. My most important accomplishment has been realising what I can bring to a team despite, and sometimes on account of, my disabilities.

Have you raced in the Boat Race before? No.

Your favourite race so far? Wallingford Regatta and National Schools’ Regatta 2019 in my pair with Avery Louis.

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? I am a scientist so I am not superstitious. I make sure that I am physically and mentally prepared by sleeping and eating enough.

Your sporting idol? Alan Turing. It’s a bit embarrassing, but I decided to start running after watching ‘The Imitation Game’ in cinemas when I was thirteen. Although I now know that most of the film was fictional, it was true that Alan Turing almost ran in the 1948 Olympics which is very cool.

If you could have any sportsperson in your crew, who would it be? Dina Asher-Smith

What gets you through a tough session?Do you have a mantra, rituals? The toughest sessions are my favourites. I love pushing through the pain. It makes me feel strong. When my confidence does falter, I just try to remind myself of how much I love the tough parts.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? I love physics, art and spending time with my family and friends.

How do you motivate yourself and your team-mates, especially with Covid restrictions? I enjoy improving each day and making myself and the team a little bit faster every session.