Paulina Librizzi

Club CUBC Women

Year of Birth 1995

Hometown New York City, New York

Nationality USA

College Hughes Hall

Undergrad/Graduate PhD

Year 4th

What are you studying? Materials Science

What is the most interesting part of your course? I get to do a lot of hands on experiments that I enjoy a lot. I get to push at the limits of battery technology.

Do you have any professional or academic plans after? I will be pursuing a career in industry afterwards.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? It’s a bit easier with a PhD because the timetable is more flexible, but there will be days where I need to make time to complete a project.

When did you start rowing, and why? I started coxing in 2018 because my friends at college thought I’d be good at it.

What was your first club? Hughes Hall/City of Cambridge Rowing Club.

What is your favourite part of rowing for Cambridge? I adore my teammates and I am very grateful for their support and advice that has allowed me to improve really rapidly.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? I started in the fall of 2018 with Hughes Hall boat club, then moved to coxing for City of Cambridge Rowing Club in the spring of 2019 because I had to take some time out for surgery. I spent the summer of 2019 taking every opportunity to cox with CCRC so that I developed. I started balancing two boat clubs so that I could race off the Cam while also supporting my college. This really prepared me for the actual training load of trialling, even though weather and Covid prevented my crews from doing any off Cam races. I still had some really good races with both clubs, and decided to trial to become the best cox I could.

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

Your favourite race so far? Probably my single best coxing moment was during the Christmas Head in 2019. It’s a fun race that doesn’t count towards anything but we still had a great race. I was with a mixed eight from Hughes Hall Boat Club and about 300m in we started overtaking another eight on a corner where two eights barely fit. I got the inside line, told my crew ‘it’s going to be tight’ and ran my calls on autopilot. It reached a point where I was staring at my 7s blade while holding my breath because if it got out of sync with the 2 seat of the other boat then it would all be over. Once we were clear I think I must have blanked from the cocktail of stress, relief, and euphoria for another 100m afterwards until my stroke said something that snapped me back to earth so that my calls went off autopilot. If that overtake hadn’t been as clean as it was, we probably wouldn’t have won our category and had the third fastest raw time. I still get stressed thinking about it, but that means it’s memorable.

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? I like doing headstands the morning of a race. I find it helps me focus and puts my heart rate and breathing where I want it to be. I also listen to some old recordings of myself and other coxes.

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? Talking to people and writing down at least one good thing about a session.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? Knitting.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? I try and look at the bigger picture, and have the crew set good intentions every single day. We’re all looking to improve and get stronger mentally and physically and Covid hasn’t broken us yet, so we’re still in this fight.