Anja Zehfuss


Year of Birth 1998

Hometown Chicago, IL

Nationality USA

College Green Templeton

Undergrad/Graduate Masters

What are you studying? MPhil in Development Studies

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? I have particularly enjoyed learning about the integration of economics into my previous background in epidemiology and public health.

Future ambitions? I am interested in the intersection of international business and disease prevention, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. I hope to work to identify and develop early stage businesses in the public health space in the global south.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? I find that making sure that I am spending time with friends and pursuing an active life outside of rowing is the most critical piece for me. A solid support network of lovely friends (especially teammates) makes rowing more rewarding and school more manageable. Also, I live and die by my Outlook calendar.

When did you start rowing, and why? I started rowing my first year of high school. I used to run competitive crosscountry but grew eight inches in a summer and decided to pivot to rowing.

What was your first club? Chicago Rowing Foundation (CRF).

What is your favourite part of rowing for Oxford? I enjoy the team dynamic. Working hard with supportive teammates that are simultaneously very smart and high achieving outside the sport is a joy.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? In college I rowed four years with Stanford Women’s Crew, placed 3rd at PAC-12s and 6th at NCAAs freshman year, 3 seat of the v4. I also placed 3rd at PAC-12s and 4th at NCAAs sophomore year, 7 seat of the 2v. Beyond this I placed 2nd at PAC-12s and 4th at NCAAs junior year, and had a successful senior year before the season was cancelled in March. At high school I had 4 years of rowing with the Chicago Rowing Foundation, an undefeated senior year in the 2- at US Junior National Team High Performance Camp and was chosen for the club nationals team in 2014. I was also invited to the 2015 US Junior National Team Selection Camp.

Have you raced in the Boat Race before? No.

Your favourite race so far? Rowing with Stanford and winning San Diego Crew Classic against a stacked field on my 21st birthday.

Your sporting idol? Rena White.

If you could have any sportsperson in your crew, who would it be? Johannes Klaebo - he is a Norwegian crosscountry skiier who was highly successful at the 2018 Olympics. I think he would be an elite addition to the OUWBC eight because he has transferrable fitness and musculature from crosscountry skiing and has one of the most insane sprints I have seen in any athlete in any sport.

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? I give myself technical cues to focus on when a session is quite physically hard, which helps me focus on other methods of dropping the split.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? Reading, keeping up with the latest epidemiological innovations, cooking, listening to Kanye West, playing the piano, travelling and trying new foods.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? Just focus on the long term and don’t stress about the craziness and day to day changes.