Tobias Schröder

Club: OUBC

Height: 200cm

School: Winchester College

International rowing record: 2017 World Rowing Junior Championships, bronze; 2018 World Rowing Under 23 Championships

Year you first started rowing: 2012

How have you coped this year?

As a team we’ve always focused on maximising each day as it comes. There is uncertainty around every race, so in some ways this year has been the same as any other: we focus on making the most of what we have and acknowledge, but don’t obsess over, the unknowns.

Could you build a strong team culture while training virtually?

Erging with my housemates made the miles pretty easy going. We knew we were in for a tough period of isolated training when the second and third lockdowns were announced so we went to great lengths to meet on Zoom for ergs and virtual pub trips to keep the season as normal as possible.

Were the isolated ergs better or worse than expected?

I didn’t expect anything from lockdown training. Our mindset didn’t change just because we were training by ourselves: we knew what we had to do and what we had to work on. Looking back, lockdown was a very productive period for me both in terms of training and academic work.

What was your lockdown training set up?

We made a makeshift tent in the garden that kept us warm-ish and dry. It was an impressive feat of engineering. With five of us in the house erging twice a day it saw a lot of use, and I will miss it once the season is over. We should apologise to the neighbours though, as it rustled extremely loudly in the wind.

How do you cope with race day nerves?

I used to get very nervous before races, but not so much anymore. On race day I am excited.

The biggest challenge?

The aim of every year is to prepare the best crew possible for race day: this year the challenge has been that we’ve had limited time to do this. We were aware at the start of the season that we’d likely face lockdowns and restricted training.

This year, more than most, it has been essential to make most of each session.

The toughest session?

A 5km test is certainly up there. Although in August I did a 16x1 minute erg with 30 seconds rest pretty close to maximum effort. That was tough.

The best day, so far?

Every day is the best day.

Only the Blue Boat races on the 4th April 2021: What’s it like splitting the squad?

Everyone in the team has put in a huge effort, so it was sad to leave the majority of the squad stuck in lockdown. That being said, the whole team recognises that our mission is to win the Boat Race, so there hasn’t been time to dwell.

Is it strange to train without the reserve eight?

The river is very empty, and it is strange to not see any other boats at all for hours at a time. At least it makes the water flatter.

How did it feel getting back on the water?

It was a great day and it felt like we had not been away. Like riding a bike.

Why do you want to beat Cambridge?

I want to win for the 2018 race that I missed out on in my first year, the 2019 Blue Boat which gave it everything but fell short, and for my friends from the 2020 squad who never got the chance to show just how strong our team was. This year is the strongest team I have been in, and we want nothing more than to turn Ely Dark Blue.