Bronya Sykes

Club CUBC Women

Year of Birth 1999

Hometown Manchester

Nationality British

College Gonville and Caius

Undergrad/Graduate Undergraduate

Year 2nd

What are you studying? Natural Sciences

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academ-ic plans after? This year I have been able to take ecology and evolution as part of my course, which I have really wanted to do for a long time. I haven’t got any particular plans yet. I’m just enjoying this for now.

Future ambitions? I don’t want to jinx it by saying.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? Taking things one at a time I don’t get overwhelmed. I found it easy to slip into trying to do everything all at once but it was very stressful and made me less productive. Now I try to make sure that when I’m doing one thing it has my entire focus.

When did you start rowing, and why? As a junior, my dad was the junior coach at my local club, and he taught me everything I know. And my older sister rowed so I think there was a bit of a case of me just wanting to do what she was doing. Although I remember not particularly liking it at first. But I’m very glad I stuck with it.

What was your first club? Trafford Rowing Club.

What is your favourite part of rowing for Cambridge? The team (I think almost everyone has said this). But really, everyone is very driven and supportive of one another. Plus they’re a lot of fun to be around. Beyond this the whole atmosphere and the coaches have really pushed me up a level.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? I started sculling when I was 11 for my local club. I mainly competed in regional competitions but did win bronze at the Sculling Head in a quad when I was 14. I got into coaching as well and got my Level 2 in 2018. Then I started rowing sweep at Cambridge when I joined last year and was selected for the 2020 CUWBC Blue boat.

Have you raced in the Boat Race before? If yes, when? No, but I was selected for the 2020 CUWBC Blue Boat.

Your favourite race so far? Trial eights last year, it was my first proper race in an eight. It was also just really cool to experience the hype around it - people were so interested in what we were doing.

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? I’ve tried a few different things. While I might not be very chatty I do like it when people around me are. Alternatively I might find something upbeat to listen to. But otherwise I think I do best when I don’t do anything particularly different to any other days. I think that helps prevent any nerves a bit.

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? I like to just zone into the strokes, it can be a bit hypnotic. And on hard ergs I just use lots of mental maths as well as doing a bit of counting strokes.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? I play the cello. I used to do it properly but now I just play for fun and it’s really nice to have a hobby purely for relaxing.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? By taking a moment to appreciate the time we get together and on the water. Coming back from the second lockdown I think we really bonded as a team because of the boost we get from training together.