School: Wycombe Abbey School
International rowing record: n/a
Year you first started rowing: 2014
How have you coped this year?
This year has been a big reminder to us all to focus on why we do the sport, and to not get bogged down in worrying about things that are out of our control. There’s no point stressing about selection when it’s hard to know if/when/ where a boat race is going to happen. I’ve ended up enjoying the moments when we’re actually able to get together as a team more as a result.
Could you build a strong team culture while training virtually?
The team has been really proactive about going for 1:1 socially distanced walks, which has definitely helped to keep spirits up. We’ve also done all of our hard ergs together on Zoom, which isn’t preferable to doing them in person together but is definitely superior to being completely alone.
Were the isolated ergs better or worse than expected?
I found them really hard, but it wasn’t too much of a surprise. I’ve always been really motivated by having friends around me; the team aspect of rowing is definitely why I do the sport.
What was your lockdown training set up?
I live in a really small house, so space was limited. I kept my erg in the kitchen but took it outside if weather permitted. There’s no room in my bedroom for equipment so weights material is in the living room; there’s currently a swiss ball sitting in our fireplace.
How do you cope with race day nerves?
I don’t really have a strategy, I just hope that all the extra adrenaline can be channelled into rowing the boat harder.
The biggest challenge?
I think personally it was trying to balance training with working 12 hour shifts in the Covid ICU. A lot of my shifts were at night and this produced a completely new physical challenge for me – trying to keep on top of training whilst my sleep schedule was all over the place was quite difficult. The mental aspect of the work was also really tough. As a medical student it felt very important to me to do my part and help out where I could, but it was really upsetting to see how unwell people were. Working in the ICU ultimately put a lot of things into perspective: it was hard to mope about having to stay home and not going rowing when others were having to fight for their lives.
The toughest session?
The kitchen 5k.
The best day, so far?
Trial VIIIs – my boat won so it felt like the month of solitary training beforehand had been worth it. The Christmas songs playing down the cox box on the row back definitely helped!
Only the Blue Boat races on the 4th April 2021: What’s it like splitting the squad?
It was really gutting to be saying goodbye to some friends, even if it’s only temporary until restrictions are lifted. We’ve all done the same training and given our all to our solitary workouts so the fact that half of us have to wait to show what we’re made of is pretty heart wrenching. But I understand why it had to happen.
Is it strange to train without the reserve eight?
Really strange, it definitely feels like we’re missing half the team.
How did it feel getting back on the water?
Just walking up to the minibus and seeing friendly faces was such a good feeling. Getting on the water was great too, but a bit of a shock to the system after not rowing since Trial VIIIs.
Why do you want to beat Cambridge?
It’s been a really tough year and we’ve all had personal challenges, but we got through them. I’m excited for us to show them exactly what Oxford is made of.