Quick background: I grew up in Derbyshire and went to the local comprehensive school. Three years ago, I decided to join my local rowing club. Upon hearing that I’d got an offer from Oxford, my rowing coach suggested that I contact OUWBC. Once I’d got my required A Level grades, I was invited to Oxford for pre-season training.
Three weeks before Freshers’ Week started I was in Oxford, training with OUWBC, exploring the city and meeting lots of new people. When I arrived for training, the coach asked me which side I row on, to which I replied ‘I don’t know’, because I had been sculling (two blades, one in each hand) for three years and had little rowing experience. The transition into university rowing was great and there was also some spare time, until term started...
The weekly training schedule for OUWBC consists of two sessions a day, six days a week. Our water sessions are at Wallingford, as it gives us a long stretch of water to really put the kilometres in. Understandably, I get a bit tired and very hungry as when training I am burning over 3,000 calories a day. One of the biggest commitments of my time, therefore, is physically eating enough food.
Reading Geography at Oxford consists of lectures, tutorials and a lot of background reading required for essays. I’m really enjoying the course, but the independent workload is a large step up from A Levels. So far, fitting in the training with the course work is demanding but, with careful time management, I'm finding it possible. Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury to waste time, so every academic session has to be time-effective.
To train with such a prestigious club and to have access to excellent coaching is a fantastic opportunity. I don't yet know whether I'll row in the Boat Race this year as it's very competitive for both the first and second boat - and I'm transitioning from recreational sculling to competitive rowing. Even so, my fitness and rowing ability is improving, training with a team is great, and the social life is very lively. Honestly, the motivation from the team is infectious. The team are here to guide you, push you, care for you and have a laugh.
All in all, I cannot recommend the benefits of sporting enough for one’s Oxford career. It gives you brilliant friends, keeps you fit, allows you to de-stress and gives you focus for your academic work. Oxford has a huge amount to offer and, with a bit of planning, I'm finding the hard training with the demanding academic work doable – so far!