School: The King’s School Chester
International rowing record: Coupe de la Jeunesse 2017 in the 4- and the 8+, winning two golds and a silver.
Year started rowing: 2013
How have you coped this year?
This year there has been a massive shift in how most people’s lives operate with a lot of people’s lives being more disrupted than mine. As a squad we all look out for each other and being able to turn to other people in very similar situations to me has been very helpful. This year has been hard for everyone but knowing that there are people who will have your back if you need them to makes it much easier.
Could you build a strong team culture while training virtually?
Having large chunks of time during the lockdowns apart does make it hard to build the team culture but the squad has pushed through it. The squad is full of motivated and kindhearted people who are easy to be teammates with. I know they will always be pushing their hardest for me and I’ll do the same for them.
Were the isolated ergs better or worse than expected?
To begin with I found the additional land training very mentally taxing, and I really missed being on the water. Over time I did get used to the isolated training –I watched a lot of Netflix on the long steady state sessions. It also really helped that we ran a virtual development squad over the summer so a lot of the athletes coming into the squad had been doing isolated training with some Zoom circuits for a few months already.
What was your lockdown training set up?
I was very lucky to have opted to rent a house with my friends this year, who didn’t mind the erg, so it was in the kitchen alongside my housemate’s powerlifting equipment. This term not all of my housemates have come back to Oxford, so they have very kindly let us turn their bedroom into an erg room.
How do you cope with race day nerves?
I like to channel my nerves into excitement. When I next race it’ll be over a year since I’ve been in a side-by-side race and I’m very much looking forward to it. I also try to control the controllables. Before the race I’ll think out my emotional responses to different situations I could find myself in and how I’ll utilise those to really perform the best I can.
The biggest challenge?
Having a sore back for a short amount of time was a big mental challenge for me. By the time my back was getting better I was actually really looking forward to being able to get back on the erg after doing a lot of training on the bike.
The toughest session?
Any intervals session – but they’re also my favourite too. It’s great seeing the progress you make and having these opportunities to push myself.
The best day, so far?
Getting back on the water for the run up to Trial VIIIs. Everyone was in such high spirits as term had just finished and we had been in lockdown for so long. Then when we got on the water the boats went really well – as if we’d had hardly any time out of them.
Only the Blue Boat races on the 4th April 2021: What’s it like splitting the squad?
It’s heartbreaking not being able to have the whole squad on the water right now as everyone has really missed the water, whether they’re aiming for the last seat in the reserve race or the top seat in the Blue Boat. I’m excited that the Blue Boat will get to race in April and I’m very grateful for it but I do miss seeing all of the squad every day and I feel for those missing out.
Is it strange to train without the reserve eight?
Yes, the whole squad is important and it’s not the same without everyone. The past two years at this point in the season both boats are selected and working towards the common aim of winning the Boat Race. It’s very strange to not have another eight on the water.
How did it feel getting back on the water?
It’s full of mixed feelings. Obviously, excitement to be back on the water but also stress as it’s under a month until the race, and we have the majority of the season of water training to catch up on.
Why do you want to beat Cambridge?
First of all, I’m a competitive person –I want to win no matter who I’m against. This year everyone has put a lot of isolated miles into this race making it all the more important to us. It’s been mentally and physically taxing to get where we are in the season and although we are metaphorically in the same boat as Cambridge, we are very much in different boats and looking to get our isolated miles on the erg rewarded.