Laura – College & University Sports

Being part of the University sports teams has been incredible, and my fellow athletes have become some of my best friends. Balancing all this exercise with academic work, Model UN debating and committees, as well as getting enough sleep, has required discipline and lots of cups of tea!

I have always liked swimming and I partly chose Emma because of the pool (I’ve enjoyed many morning kilometres!). I was also keen to continue with water polo at university. A BBQ and erg competition (ergs are rowing machines) enticed me into the Boat Club last October, when I also started training for heavy throws (shot, discuss and hammer) after competing in Athletics Cuppers (a victory for Emma women) and throwing for CUAC at the Freshers’ Varsity Match. Soon I found myself doing water polo, rowing and athletics alongside my degree.

Water polo is a contact sport and I’ve not only felt that in my head/face/leg during the 26 matches I’ve played this year, but also from teammates in terms of fun and friendship. My fitness, skill and strength have improved, especially during our January training camp in Edinburgh. Our match schedule has been tough, especially as our ‘home’ pool is over an hour’s drive away; I caught up on much needed sleep on these journeys. In the training sessions and matches – including achieving fifth at BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) semi-finals – I have shared many special moments (such as getting a half Blue), with wonderful people: my team and my friends.

Alongside this, with many early morning and weekend outings, sweaty erg sessions and daily core training, I have embarked on a rowing journey. I was a novice in October 2014, then rowed in our Lent Women’s II boat, and finally in the first boat for the May Bumps. Throughout the year I felt myself getting closer to the wondrous feeling of ‘flying’ that we rowers feel when we move together.

I was honoured to receive the first Ted Portlock Award for ‘Most Improved Novice’ and would like to say thank you for all the opportunities the Emma family has given me. I also trained with the University Development Squad, competing in and winning the Beginners’ BUCS regatta in May. I feel inspired to continue rowing and to push myself harder.

While athletics training has been less intense for me, I have appreciated the help and coaching I received from more experienced members of the club. Having done some shot put at school, at the Freshers’ Varsity Match I challenged myself to try hammer throw: a scary prospect. Training outside in the winter sunshine with friends I really improved and enjoyed myself.

When I am at home by the sea I enjoy open water swimming. I don’t mind the cold and the seaweed, and so look forward to training while also being Open Water Captain, which involves organising next year’s Varsity Channel Relay. I am keen to encourage others to join me training in Emma’s pool or the slightly longer Jesus Green lido.

I appreciate the generous grant from Emmanuel’s Windsor fund and welcome the subsidies from my clubs. I am very grateful for the dedication of my fellow athletes, captains, coaches and people behind the scenes who have enabled me to enjoy sport this year. Next year will, I hope, bring even more excitement.