Shane McCarthy


Year of Birth 1999

Hometown Bahrain

Nationality Irish

College St Catherine’s College

Undergrad/Graduate Undergraduate

Year 3rd

What are you studying? Materials Science

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? The part of my course that I find most interesting at the moment is the study of optics and opto-electronics for solar cells and renewable energy. I also really enjoy learning about composite materials and their processing. This links heavily to my interest in Formula 1 and the materials that go into making the cars lighter and faster. I will be doing a fourth year Masters but hope to potentially intern with the McLaren F1 team in the future.

Future ambitions? I am looking to train hard enough to be in the Blue boat next year. It’s a tough ask but one I think I can achieve.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? With some difficulty but a lot of enthusiasm. I actually found that my motivation for work decreased when we were in lockdown and couldn’t row versus when we were on the water. Rowing is a great outlet. It clears your head and you’ll find that after a good session you can come back to your problem sheets with a different perspective. Some of my best Eureka moments for my worksheets have been on the water.

When did you start rowing, and why? When I first came to Oxford in 2018. Rowing is a large part of Oxford’s history and since I’m tall I was encouraged by everyone to give it a try. I was also a competitive swimmer growing up and was looking for another endurance sport to branch out into. To go from a very individual sport to rowing was a welcome change, one I will never regret.

What was your first club? St Catherine’s College Boat Club - SCCBC.

What is your favourite part of rowing for Oxford? The guys I get to row with are a solid bunch and just as motivated as I am to win. To be in a high performance team with such driven people provides an experience like no other. You gain a certain appreciation or respect for your fellow teammates, knowing they go through all the same gruelling training you do and still show up with a positive attitude. Essentially my favorite part of rowing at Oxford is the great friends I have been able to make.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? Since I haven’t been rowing for very long at all, I like to think that simply making it onto the university team has been a great achievement.

Have you raced in the Boat Race before? No.

Your favourite race so far? Nanchang Invitational Regatta 2019.

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? I always fist bump the person in front of me and behind me and tell them to pass it on.

Your sporting idol? Michael Jordan or Rodger Federer.

If you could have any sportsperson in your crew, who would it be? Jimmy Butler from the Miami Heat.

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? The guys I row alongside provide all the motivation I need. Even if I wanted to give up on myself I could never quit on them. That’s just the nature of the sport. At the same time it always helps to ask myself why I am there, and the answer never changes - to beat Cambridge. Simply picturing the opposition’s rower in my seat working hard only makes me want to work harder.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? Competitive swimming and basketball.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? We have kept up a good amount of communication as a squad. It seems easy during lockdown, even when you have more time on your hands, to let friendships and contact with people slip away. So just keeping up a constant dialogue with crewmates not only brightens up my day, but it also helps me remember what I am training for and why I need to put in so much hard work.