School: Westminster School
International rowing record: Junior Worlds 2016 4+ (injured); Coimbra European University Games 2018 Boys invitational 4- (Gold)
Year you first started rowing: 2010
How have you coped this year?
Training this year was a treat for me compared to doing nothing in previous lockdowns. Last year I was unable to train with the university and I really missed it. It made me re-evaluate what I appreciated about trialling and led me to accept that I’m going to keep on rowing as long as I can. So, erging every morning was no longer something I needed to get through in order to trial but instead it became a part of my routine. This allowed me to take ownership of my own training. It made the personal bests feel great and made the bad times less important.
Could you build a strong team culture while training virtually?
I like to goof around with the guys, but because I’m living in a house full of my teammates, I was still able to get my fix of silly buggers. We tried to transmit our mood to the rest of the team via our weekly Zooms. I’m not really sure how much our coaches appreciated our Mongolian throat singing but then again, the coaches are really children at heart.
Were the isolated ergs better or worse than expected?
Worse. They are always bad, but the sheer volume was gruelling. I was getting through about seven films a week, and that was only from watching them in steady sessions. So, I didn’t hate them as much as I had done, and I wasn’t as worried about the results, but you can’t really make it fun.
What was your lockdown training set up?
We had two ergos in our garage and we have some weights in our living room. We’ve taken to listening to loud classical music when doing weights so only our younger neighbours hate us.
How do you cope with race day nerves?
I listen to jazz and relax. I try and focus less on the outcome and more on what I can do.
The biggest challenge?
For me it is selection. We are currently trying to pick our top 8 from our top 12 best ergs. This is pretty stressful as I’m trying to revise and write my coursework due in about a week after the race. Or at least I hope it is, I should check that.
The toughest session?
Our toughest session is also my best session (pick me coach). The one hour flat out. I like it because when you set out on a pace, inevitably you will think about falling off that. But actually, the splits are usually quite a lot easier to hit than a half hour. It is mind over matter.
The best day, so far?
Trial VIIIs actually felt like a normal day. We haven’t had much racing, and we haven’t trained anywhere else except Ely. Doing a proper race felt pretty liberating.
Only the Blue Boat races on the 4th April 2021: What’s it like splitting the squad?
Pretty divisive to be honest. I’m a Goldie boy as I won in that boat in 2018 and 2019. It is tough to rule people out and the boathouse feels quieter because of it.
Is it strange to train without the reserve eight?
Yes. The worst thing is the people on the team are not even allowed to come to Ely on race day. As a closed event it is tough on the team as a whole. This zero-sum game of selection is a very nasty process. But this nastiness is what makes having a rowing Blue so special. I think people in the second boats appreciate that even more than the Blues do. Lots of international athletes can walk onto the team and expect to be in the boat. People who miss out really mind.
How did it feel getting back on the water?
Quite a relief. The biggest change is actually having a firm plan for the race. This allowed us to focus a bit more as we had some clarity about what the month ahead would look like.
Why do you want to beat Oxford?
Force of habit.