School: Shawnigan Lake School, Canada/Brown University, United States
International rowing record: Canadian Junior 8+: 7th at 2010 Junior World Championships
Year you first started rowing: 2007
How have you coped this year?
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to live in a house for the past seven months with five of my teammates from CUBC, all of whom are currently competing for a spot in the Blue boat. Most of us are new to Cambridge, but at this point, we’ve become like family. In a lot of ways, the adversity, uncertainty, and pressure have made us closer than we would have been in a normal year. We have kept each other motivated and sane through what has been a very challenging period of time, and in the process we’ve made lifetime friends.
Could you build a strong team culture while training virtually?
Despite the physical distance, the team has been able to build a connection through the shared experience of training under the conditions of lockdowns and restrictions. Living with several of my teammates has allowed us and another team house to establish cultural strongholds for the rest of the team. Our coaches have also done an excellent job bringing the team together through weekly Zoom meetings and calls with CUBC alumni.
Were the isolated ergs better or worse than expected?
I did my undergrad at Brown University, where we spent every winter training off the water. We had a gruelling training regimen, which involved full-effort pieces on the erg six days a week. The combination of that experience and the company of my housemates made it much easier to survive training through the two lockdowns.
What was your lockdown training set up?
We have a decent sized garden patio in the backyard of our house, which we transformed into our training space. We put a tarp over the area to keep us (relatively) dry when it rained and snowed, and we kept our ergs in the back shed. We could comfortably get three ergs across, which made training in small groups possible. We also managed to pull together a variety of different weights, mats and bands, so we could use the space for strength and conditioning as well. Aside from some very cold and damp conditions through the winter and having to coordinate our erg schedule, our setup worked incredibly well for us.
How do you cope with race day nerves?
The best way to cope is to do everything in your power to give you confidence leading up to the day. Our training establishes that confidence, and despite the challenges of the past few months, we’ve maintained a strong training routine. When I’m sitting on the start line, I’ll be able to look back at all of the work I’ve done and take comfort from knowing I’ve given everything to ensure I can perform at my best on the day.
The biggest challenge?
For me personally it has been going through the process of getting back into peak form after not rowing for the past six years. I’ve definitely noticed that my age makes it harder to develop my fitness as quickly as I did in my early 20s, and I’ve dealt with far more injuries than before.
The toughest session?
The toughest sessions for me have been the erg tests. I pulled some big times in my prime at Brown and I’ve tried to chase that former speed throughout this season. I’ve met some incredibly painful blows while chasing my personal records. Each one of those tests has been a humbling experience, and as any rower knows, you sometimes need to go well beyond your limits to know what’s required of you mentally and physically to push them further.
The best day, so far?
The first day back on the water in the lead up to the race.
Only the Blue Boat races on the 4th April 2021: What’s it like splitting the squad?
It’s been a difficult process. I know how hard everyone on the team has been working to have the chance to compete in the race, many of whom missed the opportunity to compete last year as well, so I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be a part of the group that still has the chance to race on the original schedule.
Is it strange to train without the reserve eight?
Strange isn’t the first word that I would use to describe what it’s like to train without Goldie – it’s sad. I feel for the guys who have been putting in just as much work as the rest of us in anticipation of returning to the water and racing on April 4th. I know they have our backs as we embark on these last few weeks of training, and that motivates all of us to get the most out of every session.
How did it feel getting back on the water?
Incredible. Time on the water is what we do this for. We had no guarantee as to when we would be able to get back on the water, so there was a lot of anxiety leading up to our return to Ely. We consider ourselves incredibly lucky to have the privilege to row again.
Why do you want to beat Oxford?
This year has been unlike any in the history of the Boat Race. The challenges we’ve had to endure and the uncertainty of whether the race would take place have made it difficult psychologically. To know that we were able to overcome this adversity better than our opponent would be a testament to the fortitude of our team and would make me incredibly proud.