Fresher rowers continue to impress

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If you tried to describe rowing to someone it would probably go something like this: one is taken to their absolute physical limits and beyond, doing the same movement thousands of times, facing backwards at 6 am before anyone else has woken up. It is therefore surprising that any normal person would even consider volunteering themselves to do this. But for 23 fresher’s it has become very much a way of life at Durham. They will tell that they have ‘the rowing bug’, essentially an addiction to training, perfection and winning.

Fresher Rowing at DUBC is a unique part of Team Durham as it takes complete novices to the sport and turns them into gold medallists. In fact, both the men’s and women’s 8’s have won gold at the head in Peterborough last month, making them the fastest fresher’s crews in the country.

Their success has not been confined to the north. At the ‘Head of The River’ in London in early April, the men’s 8 managed to look down on their seeding of 378th (out of 405 boats including 65 foreign crews) to come 145th, beating Exeter, Sheffield, Leeds and Southampton senior first 8’s. This race was the same 6.8km (4.25mile) course as the Oxford-Cambridge boat race, but unlike the boat race was raced on an ebb tide from Mortlake to Putney.

Henley is the next question the fresher’s need to answer. Men’s Captain, Simon Moccatta, told me with excitement that ‘The Henley trials are what we are really working hard on at the moment. We hope we can take our success from the winter heads to these summer regatta’s.’ Over the exam period he told me they have tried to maintain their own personal fitness, but now they are over he hopes to push on intensively for the next three weeks.

Five members of the squad have even been selected to go to GB rowing’s main training facility in Caversham to get a taste of what rowing for your country could be like. Whilst there, they will also be put through a serious fitness test to see if they have the right physiological structure to make it in the world of professional rowing.

When asked about the secret to the fresher’s success, head coach Matt Evans told me it was down to the ‘great and talented’ coaches with which he worked. Whatever their secret, we wish them the best of luck in the hectic summer regatta season.

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