Thomas Surridge


Year of Birth 1998

Hometown Reading

Nationality British

College St Catherine’s

Undergrad/Graduate Masters

Year 1st

What are you studying? Medieval History

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? I’m currently being taught palaeography, which involves looking at plenty of examples of medieval writing in manuscripts. I’m putting together an application for a DPhil to be submitted in January.

Future ambitions? I’d like to work for the civil service or at a university, finding time for coxing as well of course.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? I love both coxing and my research so I rarely find the long days a chore, though it always helps to keep both supervisor and boat club well informed of difficult periods to avoid or deal with pinch points as they arise.

When did you start rowing, and why? I started coxing in October 2017 when I arrived as a fresher for my undergrad. I thought I’d give rowing a go as I’d watched the Boat Race every year since 2005 with my family. I decided I’d try coxing as well in my first term. It helped that there was a bit of family interest in rowing: my grandfather (my mum’s dad) supported Oxford in the Boat Race every year despite never having been to university, as my uncle had received an offer to study there. My grandmother (my dad’s mum), while never having rowed on water, was a champion indoor rower and still holds the British 2k indoor record for a woman over the age of 80.

What was your first club? Mansfield College Boat Club.

What is your favourite part of rowing for Oxford? Being able to work with such a capable and brilliant team in such extraordinary facilities at the Fleming Boat House.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? Three years at college level with some experience with the OUBC and OU-WBC development squads. I was particularly proud to represent Isis Boat Club at Marlow Regatta at Eton Dorney in 2019.

Have you raced in the Boat Race before? If yes, when? No.

Your favourite race so far? Racing the Oxford bumps: Summer Eights 2019 was wonderful. I coxed the Mansfield College women’s 1st VIII (with current OUWBC members Martha Birtles and Charlotte Withyman in the crew), the weather was brilliant all week and it was the occasion I earned my college boat club blazer.

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? Not really, though as a cox I like to be as organised as possible on race day to alleviate anxiety.

Your sporting idol? Acer Nethercott - the first Boat Race I saw on TV was the 2005 race, Nethercott’s last. While I did not appreciate his role in the Boat Race at the time, I have come to admire his coxing since taking up the sport at university. The 2003 Boat Race in particular stands out as an amazing example of one of the greatest races of all time, and of the importance of pushing the crew right to the line to win.

If you could have any sportsperson in your crew, who would it be? Harry Kane - despite not playing for my club, I admire his leadership on the pitch and have heard many attest to his work ethic in practice.

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? If the conditions are really challenging, speaking to the other coxes beforehand, and consistently to the coach and stroke seat during the outing gives me a better basis on which to make decisions. Reminding yourself that the rowers are probably having a tougher time of it than you usually puts things in perspective too!

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? I’m a supporter of Reading FC. I attended my first game in 2006 and saw them beat Nottingham Forest in 2012, the game in which they were promoted to the Premier League for the second time.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? Coxing for Oxford is such a fantastic opportunity and unique experience that arriving at Iffley Road or Wallingford provides a lot of motivation in itself.