I am A Rower ...
LISTEN TO ANTOINETTE’S STORY
“I started rowing in my late 50s. There is a recognition that age plays a part in overall rowing performance, but nobody makes allowances for you other than that.”
I did an annual health check at work in 2008 and mine was bit alarming, so I decided to take myself in hand and go to the gym. While I was there, I found I was good at the rowing machine and enjoyed it.
The Guardian was running a series on how to start in certain sports, and had one on rowing that mentioned the Lea R.C. So, I decided to try rowing on the water. I was in my late 50s and wondered whether they would think I was too old, but I’ve not found age to be a barrier at all. There’s a recognition that age plays a part in overall rowing performance, but nobody makes allowances for you other than that – in training or on the water.
One of our captains said to me ‘you need to be fit to row, rather than row to become fit’ and there’s truth in that. But it has had an impact on my fitness just by keeping me at it – because there’s always a reason not to go to the gym. In rowing there’s a lot of peer pressure in terms of training and races.
I’ve surprised myself in my commitment and in the simple enjoyment of being on the water. When it goes well – and it doesn’t always go well – it really is unsurpassable as an experience. And on cold, wet winter mornings doing a race on the Thames you do feel alive.
I didn’t think for a moment about joining a community, but that’s how it’s turned out, and one of the club’s long-standing members said to me recently that we have a duty to ensure continuity. I thought that was a great way to put it; this sport has been going on the river for over 100 years and, the baton has passed to us now.
I am in the Masters squad now and we row competitively – there’s always trepidation beforehand, then when you’re on the water, there’s the immediacy of it. And when it's over you think, ‘Gosh, that was great, I’d like to do it again – that’s one of my favourite things. That, and cake. My husband is a great baker and there’s a coffee and walnut cake that he always has to make for us to take now to enjoy after racing on cold winter mornings.