The past 15 months, especially the time spent in lockdown, has been a psychological test of how hard you are prepared to work when there is no goal in sight.
These athletes worked just hard at home, alone, as they do when they are in the gym or on the water with their squad. The girls followed a home training programme right from the start of Lockdown 1, training 5-7 times a week. They used Zoom to stay in contact and keep each other motivated, including doing circuits and ergs with each other online.
As we came out of Lockdown 3, it was clear we had a squad that was physically capable of competing at a national level, but we still didn’t have a goal. Only after Easter did the National Schools Regatta (NSR – our annual national championships) confirm that they would be going ahead. Over the next seven weeks, the girls raised their game even further, not missing a single training session, and started to produce boat speeds we had not seen at this age group before. But we still had no idea how fast the rest of the country was going. Normally we would have a race every 2-3 weeks, to see how other schools and clubs were going, and how our own crew performs in a competitive environment, but this year they were heading to Nationals effectively blind.
On the day of the event, the girls had a 1900m individual time trial first, to seed crews into the 2000m side-by-side A/B/C Finals. At the halfway marker they were seven seconds up, a very handy margin, but it was the second half where all the hard work that had gone into lockdown came through, and they moved away to finish 18 seconds clear of the field. Despite the overwhelming relief and satisfaction, the girls maintained their professional athlete mindsets, and focussed on the Final where they went on to produce a dominating performance, leaving the field behind them, and delivering what turned out to be the fastest ‘age group time percentage’ of the regatta.
Part of this squad’s strength comes from its depth. All the athletes throughout the WJ16 squad drive the ones above them, and as a result we also had an incredibly fast 2nd 8+ who brought home silver medals from the WJ16 2nd 8s event.
The Senior Squad entered Quads into the WJ18 Championship 1st and 2nd events, always extremely tough with the very best athletes in the country. The Seniors raced hard, with the 1st Quad finishing 3rd in the ‘C’ Final (15th), and the 2nd Quad winning the ‘B’ Final (7th).
|WJ18 1st 4x (15th)|
|WJ18 2nd 4x (7th)|
|WJ16 1st 8+ (1st)|
|WJ16 2nd 8+ (2nd)|