Oliver Perry

Club: OUBC

Height: 180cm

School: Eton College

International rowing record: n/a

Year you first started rowing: 2014

How have you coped this year?

I quickly realised that all of the decision making was out of my hands so whilst being proactive and adapting to the situation has been important, not worrying about what is beyond our control has made it a lot easier.

Could you build a strong team culture while training virtually?

Having sessions on Zoom was really helpful. Even just seeing people every day on a screen is better than nothing. It was actually surprisingly useful from a technical and athlete development point of view as well.

Were the isolated ergs better or worse than expected?

From a coxing point of view, worse. Being at home meant that there was very little that could be done to improve on the water skills. I hadn’t really anticipated how much of this part of the season was going to be lost to lockdown so really the impact was quite a lot worse than I thought it would be.

How do you cope with race day nerves?

My role really is to do whatever I can to make the other eight in the boat as least nervous and stressed as possible. Lots of planning and visualisation is a good way to ensure that there aren’t surprises that could throw me off. The worst thing that I can do is show that I’m nervous because then it brings it out in everyone else.

The biggest challenge?

Staying focused on a race on 4th April. Being at home without any on the water rowing or seeing the squad everyday has made it challenging at times to remember that we are building towards a race in three weeks’ time. Now we are allowed back on the water this has been a lot easier.

The toughest session?

Not really applicable, but the long steady-state ones where it’s my job to bring some kind of focus and structure to a session that could be longer than 90 minutes can be pretty challenging in terms of getting the best performance out of the guys in the boat.

The best day, so far?

Trial VIIIs. Side-by-side racing at Ely was great. The race itself was both a lot of fun and a good challenge with some things to be learnt.

Only the Blue Boat races on the 4th April 2021: What’s it like splitting the squad?

I think it is a good decision to get a race done even if that means cutting the numbers. For the clubs and the future of the race, an event taking place is important, so I think it was the right decision. Obviously, it means removing more extensive selection and crew formation which may have opened some seats up to some people just outside of the twelve which isn’t something that anyone wants.

Is it strange to train without the reserve eight?

Yes, the atmosphere at the boathouse is different and it’s a shame that there isn’t the same squad-wide focus on race day; instead, it is now just on the Blue Boat. Of course, Isis will get that same attention and focus when they get back to training, it is just unfortunate that we cannot do it at the same time. The social side is definitely missing but given the current circumstances that’s not surprising.

How did it feel getting back on the water?

It feels like such a privilege. Knowing that there are people still at home not able to get out on the water really makes you appreciate it a lot more and it has been fun building crews for that last bit of the season.