Jean-Philippe Dufour


Year of Birth 1995

Hometown Zurich, Switzerland

Nationality Swiss/Canadian

College Lincoln College

Undergrad/Graduate PhD

Year 2021

What are you studying? PhD in Neuroscience

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? I spend my days solving the problems that never stop coming up when doing research. I enjoy that I’m able to immerse myself in a subject and study it in great detail, seeing what other people have done to approach it, and how I might tackle the problem myself. I’m studying brain mechanisms at a fundamental level. I studied medicine in Switzerland so will be returning to clinical work after my PhD, and continue doing research using the skills I’ve acquired here.

Future ambitions? To start my residency in neurosurgery at the university hospital in Zurich and become a neurosurgeon.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? By staying on top of my recovery and sleep. I try to mentally separate the two - when I am training I forget about my work in the lab and when I am in the lab I try to not think about rowing too much (although this can be hard sometimes and I often catch myself thinking about what parts of my rowing I should be improving).

When did you start rowing, and why? Just before my 20th birthday. I’ve always been a competitive person and enjoyed sports and being fit, so I was looking for a new physical challenge and figured I’d be quite good at it considering my height. I had absolutely no idea what rowing was, coming into it, but I reached decent scores on the erg quickly and started to train regularly almost right away. I made a lot of great friends while rowing and enjoyed pushing myself hard in training.

What was your first club? Belvoir Ruderclub Zurich.

What is your favourite part of rowing for Oxford? The squad - I met so many like-minded people. Training in such a competitive environment pushes every athlete to be the best they can be and elevates the whole squad. When you have guys next to you putting down big numbers, you try and match them. Every person in the squad is academically very driven and competitive by nature, which are qualities I greatly appreciate.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? I rowed at university and club level in Switzerland for the first 3.5 years before coming to Oxford. I’ve definitely improved massively since thanks to the great coaching and training program. My biggest achievement was being selected in the 2020 Blue boat although this achievement will be surpassed this year when I win the Boat Race on Cambridge’s home ground.

Have you raced in the Boat Race before? If yes, when? Only in my Covid-free dreams.

Your favourite race so far? The fixture against Brookes 2020.

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? Just get in the zone and trust the training we’ve been doing. I know everybody in my boat will dig deep. I try to mentally picture the stroke and rhythm I want to be rowing before pushing off. I’m not a superstitious person, everybody makes their own luck, and if you underperform most likely you have nobody to blame but yourself.

Your sporting idol? Roger Federer.

If you could have any sportsperson in your crew, who would it be? Tadej Poga-car.

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? Thinking about winning the Boat Race, that’s all I need to get me through. Also thinking about not having to erg in my room anymore.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? I am a bit of a classical music nerd, so I listen to a lot of it. I play the violin although unfortunately I don’t have enough time anymore with training, but will take it up again when I stop training. Apart from that reading and other sports like cycling.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? The Boat Race is just around the corner. I’ll erg all day in my room if I have to. I didn’t come back to lose.