School: Lycée Français de Madrid
International rowing record: n/a
Year you first started rowing: 2017
How have you coped this year?
The cancellation of the 2020 race left a huge emptiness. We had trained the whole year for that one day. We had been told many times, that no matter what, the Boat Race will never be cancelled. And yet it was. This year is an opportunity to complete what we left hanging last season. This has been a huge driver to face all the challenges this year. We knew this season was going to be different and that we would have to deal with more uncertainty than before. Being mentally prepared for the unexpected and acknowledging that we were going to struggle helped us cope. Knowing our time on the water could be cut short pushed us to be focused when we had the opportunity to row. We’ve done a good job of supporting each other through the ups and downs. I set myself goals which help me keep focused on the overarching goal. But, after the cancellation of the race last year, I know how important it is to enjoy the process.
Could you build a strong team culture while training virtually?
Although we haven’t had as much time in person this year, we have had one of the closest squads of my trialing experience. I think that physical isolation has pushed our interactions beyond the training sphere. In previous years we saw each person every day but mainly for training. Whereas this year, we have made even more time for Zoom sessions to catch up and see how everyone is doing. We also started a virtual writing group where we work together and support each other, this has really helped us to learn more about what everyone is studying. Some days I have spent almost my whole day on Zoom with some squad members, erging in the morning, working during the day and doing weights in the afternoon. I believe most of the team culture comes from facing challenges together which brings you closer, and there has not been a shortage of those this year.
Were the isolated ergs better or worse than expected?
It is hard to say what I was expecting. It is has definitely been tough having so few hours in the water and having so many on the erg alone. Most of us choose this sport because we love the thrill of training together on the river, making a boat move as fast as we can on the water. And the erg is not exactly that. This much erging has been a particular personal challenge. I had abdominal surgery during the summer, so I wasn’t able to do much erging at the beginning of the season and was on the bike turbo instead. By the third lockdown my aim was to complete all the cardio sessions on the erg and by the end of the lockdown be stronger for it. Luckily, we have had some freedom with the land training, with cross training sessions a week. I have especially enjoyed going on runs or cycles with teammates which we wouldn’t have been able to do in the past. It has been fun to have some friendly competition that is not on the ergs or on the water.
What was your lockdown training set up?
Since first lockdown, the amount of athletic equipment has slowly invaded my house, luckily my housemates are quite understanding. I try to erg in my backyard weather permitting, otherwise in the living room where there is also a turbo. Unfortunately, I don’t have a full set of weights, but I have a couple of kettlebells and bands.
How do you cope with race day nerves?
I like going through what is going to happen on race day and visualise the race almost every day on the week leading to the race. Some of my teammates still remember me going through the first few strokes of the start over and over again before my Blondie race in 2019. The day of the race, I follow my routines, I know what works for me, what to eat and when, what music to listen to, when to warm up.
The biggest challenge?
I think the biggest challenge is the one we face now, preparing for the Boat Race in under four weeks. We have to get used to the water after more than two months on land, select crews, build a crew feeling, and prepare to race without fixtures or almost any race practice in the whole season.
The toughest session?
There have been many tough sessions: seat-racing in 30 km/h winds, 5k pieces on the water, 5k pieces on the erg, and fartleks. However, sometimes the toughest thing to get through is the day-to-day UT2 ergs in isolation. Usually, in the water it is easy to maintain the focus and the time passes quickly; but 75 minutes on the erg, alone, day after day is tough.
The best day, so far?
There is not a single day in mind but all those days that I have been able to train with my teammates are really enjoyable.
Only the Blue Boat races on the 4th April 2021: What’s it like splitting the squad?
When we got the news that only 12+2 people could go back on the water it was horrible. I feel immensely fortunate to be back on the water and excited that there is going to be a race on the 4th of April. However, after having trained together during the whole season, it is sad to see the squad divided. It is an integral part of the races that Blondie and the Blue Boat train side by side to race against Oxford, on the same day, on the same course. I have been in Blondie in the last two years, and it is sad to not see the boat on the water at the moment and not knowing when it will get to race.
Is it strange to train without the reserve eight?
It is very strange. Usually at this point in the season the Blue Boat and Blondie are doing most sessions side by side to practice. It is such a big part of the team spirit training together, side by side, pushing each other to row faster.
How did it feel getting back on the water?
It was just amazing. The boat felt rocky at first, especially compared to an ergo but once we took some strokes and started moving it was incredible. I didn’t quite realise how much I missed pushing alongside my crewmates and feeling the boat flowing under us.
Why do you want to beat Oxford?
Honestly, the main goal is to have the best race we can as a crew and row the fastest we can. Ideally, we cross the finish line first, the other crew is just necessary to have a race.