Kaitlyn Dennis


Height: 165cm

School: St. Thomas Aquinas High School

International rowing record: n/a

Year started rowing: 2014

How have you coped this year?

I have focused on taking everything day by day. This has enabled me not to get overwhelmed and stay present in the moment.

Could you build a strong team culture while training virtually?

Yes, I believe we have built a strong team culture this year. Although it would be easier if we were all together, the squad did a phenomenal job at taking care of one another through these difficult times. Maintaining contact virtually through Zoom erg sessions and social events has helped to keep us feeling together while apart.

Were the isolated ergs better or worse than expected?

The isolated erg sessions were very difficult, however seeing teammates on Zoom pushing themselves was plenty of motivation to keep going. Doing the workouts for my teammates really helped me to get through the months of lockdown training.

What was your lockdown training set up?

I turned my living room into a mini training centre with an erg, weights and a turbo smart trainer. It wasn’t as nice as the Iffley gym, but I was really fond of the proximity to the fridge. I looked out into a shared garden that was very pretty and would watch the birds during longer cycles and ergs.

How do you cope with race day nerves?

I cope with race day nerves by embracing the nerves as a positive thing and looking at the race as a challenge that I get to complete. A positive mindset is key for me.

The biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge has been getting back into the rhythm of rowing on the water after months inside on the erg.

The toughest session?

VO2 Max sprint work. I love longer endurance pieces so these are mentally tough for me.

The best day, so far?

The best part of the campaign was pre-season. It was so nice to have everyone together (socially distanced and following Covid rules) rowing in eights outside in sunshine. We have a really friendly and welcoming squad so meeting everyone for the first time in person was really special as President.

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

It was really tough. This year’s Blue Boat will be a result of the entire team. Everyone has played an important role to get the squad where it is now and will share in the outcome of the race.

Is it strange to train without the reserve eight?

Yes. There is nothing better than side by side paddling with the two eights. It helps to elevate the level of both squads.

How did it feel getting back on the water?

It felt surreal. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be back rowing in Wallingford.

Why do you want to beat Cambridge?

I want the OUWBC squad to win the 2021 Boat Race because we have been through so much together. From those athletes who didn’t get to race last year and new members this year, everyone has poured their hearts into training and I am very proud to be a part of this amazing team.