School: Putney High School
International rowing record: Won in the 4- and 8+ at Coupe de la Jeunesse as a junior
Year started rowing: 2013
How have you coped this year?
Adapting to training alone this year has been a big adjustment which was made harder by the uncertainty of not knowing when we would be able to resume on-water training. Thankfully, rowing has provided a structure and routine which I needed in lockdown, and the support of the team has helped navigate an uncertain and unpredictable year.
Could you build a strong team culture while training virtually?
I think having a strong team culture has been more important than ever this year, as it has provided a sense of camaraderie in what would have otherwise been quite a lonely period. We did our harder sessions as a team on Zoom, which made a big difference to my motivation and gave the illusion that I wasn’t actually erging alone in my kitchen again. In some ways, the challenges this year has posed have strengthened our team culture, as we have had to rely on each other to get through the tough sessions in isolation.
Were the isolated ergs better or worse than expected?
I think it was beneficial to my degree because I could slot in training wherever it best suited my work schedule, but I really missed having a team around me on the isolated ergs. Towards the end of lockdown it felt like all the tough elements of rowing without the social aspect which makes it so enjoyable.
What was your lockdown training set up?
I was at home for the third lockdown, and erged in the kitchen. I am really lucky my family are so supportive, as they had to put up with a loud erg in the middle of the kitchen and the back door wide open in January, whilst they were having breakfast. Safe to say they were relieved when I was able to resume on-water training and they could reclaim the kitchen.
How do you cope with race day nerves?
I try to just focus on what we can do as a crew to move as fast as possible, rather than worrying about things outside of our control, like what the opposition might do or how the race may pan out. I also I try to see race day adrenaline as a positive that I can utilize to get the most out of myself.
The biggest challenge?
Having such a short time frame to select and train a crew has been challenging. We have had to condense what would usually be a long process into a few weeks, which has added pressure.
The toughest session?
It’s hard to choose, but the weekly VO2 max interval sessions on the erg alone in my kitchen weren’t fun.
The best day, so far?
We have had so many good days in the gym and on the water, but one of my favourites was our last session before the November lockdown. We were on the water for an incredible sunrise in the morning and again when the sun was setting that evening, racing in eights. It was such a good session to end on and it made me so excited to get back on the water after lockdown.
Only the Blue Boat races on the 4th April 2021: What’s it like splitting the squad?
We’re lucky to be able to get back on the water, but I was sad to find out that it would only be twelve of us. Everyone has trained so hard throughout lockdown, and there has been a strong sense that we’ve been in it together, so it’s a shame the squad had to be split. I miss seeing my other teammates on the water and I really respect the hard land training they are still doing on the erg.
Is it strange to train without the reserve eight?
I really wasn’t expecting the reserve race to be postponed, so that has been difficult to get my head around. I think the uncertainty of not knowing when the reserve race will be is quite difficult to deal with.
How did it feel getting back on the water?
It was the best feeling to finally see my teammates in person again and get back on the water. The erg training was getting pretty monotonous, so it was such a relief to be back in a boat. Lockdowns have really limited the amount of time we have had on the water this year, so I really appreciate any sessions that we do get in a boat.
Why do you want to beat Cambridge?
Beating Cambridge would be the most incredible culmination of what has been a really tough year. I’ve felt inspired by how tough my teammates have been and how they have managed to stay so positive throughout it all, so I would love to see our efforts result in winning the Boat Race.