Emily – The Life of a Trialist

We spent a fantastic week in Henley in the build-up to the boat race, living as a crew and getting lots of practice in on the Henley reach. Tuesday saw the Challenge, with Charlotte as our Lightweight Captain accepting the Tethys challenge while the rest of us sized up the opposition.

After a glorious week race day arrived bright and sunny, but bringing plenty of nerves with it. First up was the weigh-in: as a Lightweight we had to be less than 59kg, but once that was out the way we could focus on the race. Harriet talked us through the plan one last time, then we walked down to the river and before we knew it we were sat on the start line. For us, the race didn’t exactly go to plan: Oxford were quick off the start and once we’d got behind we couldn’t get clear of their puddles. It was a sad result to a hard year of training, but a fantastic experience nonetheless. We put it behind us though, and after four more weeks of training went on to win gold at BUCS [British Universities and Colleges Sport] regatta.

Trialing has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done, training hard with a group of people who have come to be like a second family, with a common goal. It’s safe to say I couldn’t have done it without the support of the Emma boat club, for teaching me to row in the first place, and then backing me every step of the way. I hope we can get even more people from Emma trialing next year.

5.20am The alarm goes and I’ve just got time to grab some porridge before it’s out of the door and off to the station to catch the 5.55am train to Ely. This term (Lent) we’re in Ely three mornings a week, to avoid the traffic jam of colleges getting their last minute practice in before bumps. A speedy walk to the boat house follows and then Harriet our cox (from Emma) gets us all organised and we’re on the water. We might see the Lightweight Men out: all the crews are training hard in the run up to the boat races.

Back off the water and it’s a jog to make the train, then straight into 9 o’clock lectures. It’s non-stop, and as a trialist you have to make the most of every minute you have as free time is hard to come by. At lunch I catch up with my College friends and all the latest news from the College’s Ladies’ First VIII.

The evening involves a weights session; now we’re getting close to race day it’s all fast work, and Matt our coach has dreamed up some new ways to make everyone hurt! It’s worth it, though; every rep [repetition] is another stroke against Oxford.

Time for dinner – Lightweight-friendly of course – with Charlotte, who is with me in the Lightweight Women’s boat, and Will, spare for the Lightweight Men. Then an early night, ready to go round again tomorrow …