It has been quite a year and the last few weeks have been intense but very rewarding.
Being able to get back on the water in the final build up has been a huge boost. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the athletes rowed after the prolonged period of isolated land training. And since getting back in the boat we continue to make a lot of progress. Nobody has ever faced a Boat Race campaign under these circumstances before. Handling the situation we found ourselves in required a lot of adaptation and responsive learning. Plans were created, adapted, thrown out and recreated with ridiculous frequency.
The coaches tried to do everything we could to maintain an engagement with the athletes and continue to coach and provide instruction. We really wanted to stay engaged to fulfil our duty of care if nothing else, and that meant speaking to athletes individually at least once a week. There were a lot of Zoom ergs with focused technical feedback, and over the weeks the athletes made positive changes and that has been very gratifying to see.
The squad had good days and not such good days and everyone had emotional ups and downs but all in all, we did remarkably well. If we had to do it again there are things we might tweak, but in summary it has gone well.
But erging and rowing are two different sports. And we lost a good bit of water time so selecting and forming a Blue Boat and giving it the best chance to settle together was our primary focus after getting back to Ely. This final phase has gone better than I could have imagined and that is down to the athletes’ complete commitment, concentration and hard work.
I am looking forward to seeing what the crew can do come race day. I know they are well-prepared and excited to get out and compete against Oxford.