Lockdown sports series: The Boat Club

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By Lexi Bothamley-Dakin, Second Year History

Over the coming weeks, Epigram Sport will look at how several University sports clubs have adapted to life in lockdown. In the first article of the series, the University Boat Club explain how they have been training.

23 March not only brought a national lockdown to the UK, but it ended all hopes of a successful summer racing season for the University Boat Club with the cancellation of multiple regattas.

It seemed that the gruelling 6:00am sessions and hundreds of training miles had all been for nothing, that the season was well and truly over.

There was, however, little time to dwell on lost racing. Attention quickly turned to what could be done to continue training and maximise personal development during this unsettling time.

Many members do not have access to rowing machines, so a certain level of ingenuity was needed.

It seemed the gruelling 6:00am sessions and hundreds of training miles had all been for nothing | University of Bristol Boat Club

The committee soon set out plans for a whole club challenge. In true Jules Verne fashion we would be rowing, cycling, and running our way around the world in 80 days.

For a lot of us this meant stepping out of the boat and onto land in the form of running. My fondest memory of lockdown training was being chased by a bull on the Chatsworth estates.

A certain level of ingenuity was needed

Thankfully, others had far more success and the club reached a total of 532.71 kilometres on the first day alone.

Our alumni, Nonesuch Members, also participated in the ‘Around the World’ challenge. With their help we were able to smash our target and we returned to Bristol after a mere 53 days – a feat which Phileas Fogg would surely be proud of.

The boat club thrives off competition. With this in mind the women’s squad took on both Exeter’s and Oxford’s University Women’s squads in a fitness competition. This saw each member complete a timed bodyweight circuit, with the overall quickest team taking the win.

Unfortunately, Bristol came 3rd in the competition by a matter of seconds, but it was still a fantastic chance for training together and for some friendly competition.

Some members have been training harder than ever. John and Robert Davies have continued with a brutal 12 sessions a week in preparation for the new season.

They have made huge progress in their 2,000-metre tests, improving by a margin of ten seconds, and will surely be the ones to beat next season.

Some members have been lucky enough to train on rowing machines and have made good use of it | John and Robert Davies

Last year’s Men’s captain Arun Jackson has been completing his own cycling challenge, reaching 3,000 miles since the start of lockdown.

He has also accomplished his own RideLondon challenge, which saw him cycle 165 kilometres across the capital. To put into perspective this was five hours and 43 minutes of near-continuous cycling.

In a similar fashion, Robbie Prosser rowed for an incredible 100,000 metres, a staggering seven hours and 13 minutes of non-stop rowing. I shudder just thinking about it.

In the last week, we have started to see a return to normality, with many making use of the good weather to practice some single sculling on the Avon.

British Rowing has announced in the last few days that by the 29th August we will be allowed to use all boats, including eights. This gives us hope of a return to pre-season in September.

Even after this announcement, social-distancing precautions and strict cleaning procedures will most likely still be in place.

With so much still unknown, we will have to wait to see how the pandemic unfolds before finding out if races can go ahead.

The Boat Club thrives off competition

Everyone can be proud of their efforts during lockdown. Whether by rowing at home, cycling through London, running along the Cornish Coast, or even playing Ultimate Frisbee, we’ve managed to maintain fitness.

The Boat Club has certainly shown that, ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’

Featured: University of Bristol Boat Club


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