SENIOR WOMEN'S SQUAD
The Senior Women's Squad is a large group of athletes who have quite a large mix of experience, from those who started rowing in university, to those who have represented their country. We pride ourselves on our programme, which has gone through years of rigorous testing by Head Coach, James Parris. We are always looking for athletes who have big ambitions and the necessary commitment to help us achieve our goal of winning at Henley Women's Regatta.
The 2020/21 season started on a great note. Without normal service resuming, the team have been working very hard on technique and starting to bash some heads together on the water (something I want to focus on this season).
At the moment, there has been no land training, other than weights, scheduled in the programme and the focus is on rowing as much as possible, with nighttime sessions during the week.
Lockdown 2 was particularly tough for the team. Not being able to get out on the water, (again) having to isolate from teammates and no access to "normal" rowing activities meant it was difficult for all members of the team to motivate themselves after the great start we made to the season.
However, what training they did manage (with their coach tracking activities on Strava) has been a testament to the dedication this group has in ploughing everything into every opportunity they can get.
For me, this season needs to be about opportunities and taking them when we can get them.
That being said, I was very disappointed to have to cancel last night's paddle (for the first time this season) due to cold and wet conditions. Something I expect to have to make a call on more often during Winter's grip.
As you all know, not having access to changing facilities makes warming up and getting dry after a session impossible. Add a 2 hour round trip on public transport to/from the club to that (for some team members) and this makes for a bleak prospect.
However, I'm very optimistic about this small group of women.
I'm starting to see the steely-eyed look of hungry competitors and an assuredness about being able to "do it properly" in tough conditions, even a desire to knuckle down when being put under pressure.
In previous seasons, when faced with keeping in front of (or passing) another crew, they would either try too hard and flounder, or not try at all - not seeing it as their job to try to compete.
Now they keep a cool head and go through their processes as best they can, eager to show what they can do against others.
To the outside eye, we're just paddling around. But these women work hard to produce their performance.
I focus a great deal on technical proficiency. I want it done the right way. All the time. We do little hard, fast rowing. Especially now, when the season is in its infancy. But this will come in time when the basics are ingrained.
What most can't see from the outside, though, is the way the team is being asked to row is very physically demanding, even on the paddle.
It's a slow journey of getting the processes right. Then, in my hero, Bill Walsh's, words - "The Score Takes Care of Itself".
We're moving forwards, taking our time and working as hard as we can to improve in these challenging conditions. Looking to overcome the obstacles as they present themselves to us.