Seb Benzecry

Club CUBC Men

Year of Birth 1998

Hometown London

Nationality British

College Jesus

Undergrad/Graduate Masters

Year 2020

What are you studying? Film and Screen Studies

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? The most interesting part is hearing from some incredible guest lecturers on different aspects of film theory. I’m also enjoying watching some really engaging and innovative experimental film from the past century. I hope one day to work in the film industry, using my theoretical knowledge to support the practical aspect of filmmaking.

Future ambitions? I’d love to become a director.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? It can be pretty challenging sometimes to strike the right balance, as early morning training can leave you feeling pretty lethargic for the rest of the day. However, I’m really fortunate to be studying something that I really enjoy delving into, so it never feels like a chore to sit down to study.

When did you start rowing, and why? I started rowing after an injury stopped me from playing rugby when I was 13. I was pretty tall for my age, so I was told to try it - I’ve never looked back.

What was your first club? St Paul’s School Boat Club.

What is your favourite part of rowing for Cambridge? There’s so much to love, but being on a team with such a rich history and being a part of such a historic event is really special. At Cambridge, we have an incredible mix of athletes ranging from freshers just starting their university rowing career to PhD students who are also juggling entrepreneurial projects. There are a wealth of perspectives and outlooks, but there is a real sense of inclusivity too.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? I rowed at St Paul’s for five years, and was the Boat Club Captain in my final year (2016), after we won the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Henley in 2015, which I would consider my biggest rowing achievement. I then rowed in the eight at the junior world championships in 2016, which was a fantastic experience, before heading to Princeton University in the USA and rowing there for four years.

Have you raced in the Boat Race before? No.

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? I have to listen to ‘Harder Than You Think’ by Public Enemy at least twice.

Your sporting idol? James Cracknell. His commitment, dedication and absolute perseverance is inspiring. I only wish I had been at Cambridge in 2019 so that I could’ve had the chance to row with him.

If you could have any sportsperson in your crew, who would it be? John Cena. I think we’d be unbeatable off the start, then it would just be a case of hanging on for the next 6km. It would be great fun.

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? I try and focus on a few things and then cycle through those focuses for periods of time. If we’re doing a long bout of hard steady state in the boat, for example, I’ll try and have a few technical focuses that I’ll cycle through for 20 strokes at a time, or if we’re doing a shorter, intense piece on the ergo, I’ll try and divide up the piece so that I can focus on different things at different points during the session. In the back of my mind when a session is really hard, I always try to think of the big picture - winning the Boat Race - and use that as immediate motivation.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? I’m hugely interested in filmmaking, and have also done a fair amount of animation over the past few years. I love acting and hope to get some opportunities to act on-stage later in the year.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? Fortunately, I am in a house with five other guys on the team, which has been really great in terms of holding each other accountable and staying motivated. During the lockdown period we were able to work out together in the garden on the rowing machines, and when we’re on the water, having the other guys in the house makes getting up really early to catch the bus to Ely so much more manageable. We’re all there for each other, and for the rest of the team. Generally the whole group has stayed highly motivated.