I have never thought of myself as a very talented indoor rower; I would always achieve decent scores: not the fastest but not the slowest either. So when I was informed of my placement in the virtual regattas that had taken place over the weekend, I was beyond stunned.
After a hard year of training, the announcement of a national lockdown was hard for me to hear; I had been looking forward to a summer of racing and training on the water for the whole year but, nonetheless, I did not see it as a setback for my progress. As it has turned out, perhaps the relentless indoor training had proved to have the opposite effect.
I knew that there were bound to be a number of indoor virtual rowing events in place to account for the regattas that had to be cancelled, so when I heard about the Bewl Bridge virtual regatta and the National Schools erg event taking place, I realised that I had to show my coaches that the training had been worthwhile after all. After a few weeks of well thought out training programs by coaches and zoom calls focussing on technique, I was ready to take on the challenge of the indoor regattas.
The weekend of racing started off with a 1km timed run, as part of the Bewl Bridge event. I completed the run in what I thought was a respectable time and returned home to prepare for the 1k indoor rowing race that was taking place not long after. I had a 5-10-minute warmup on the erg, since the previous run had already got my muscles working, then I prepared the zoom call on my laptop and got some energetic music playing, sitting ready for the race.
“Sit forward to row… Attention…GO!”, and we were off.
Pictured: Group zoom shot of our J15 and J16 boys and girls competing
Fortunately, the race was only 1km, so it was over in a matter of minutes. I checked the time on my monitor, and it was a PB! Attempting to hide my undeniable excitement, I called out my time and sent it to the junior boys group chat where it would be sent to the Bewl Bridge event organisers. Next up was the 250m row, which was part of the National Schools event. With only 10 minutes to go until the start time, I stretched out my legs and got ready to go again. Being even shorter than the 1k, the race was an all-out sprint and it was over in what seemed like seconds. Achieving another PB, I once again I called out my time and sent it to the group chat. It was a while until the 2k race, so I had some food and had a rest on the sofa.
The time came for me to do the final event of the day and I sat ready on the erg, awaiting the call to start. The 2k was by far the hardest race of them all. At the 1k point my legs had already turned to jelly thanks to the previous races, but regardless, I carried on going and reached the finish line with a sigh of relief (and exhaustion!). For the third time of the day, I had achieved another PB and sent the result to the group chat. Now all I could do was wait for the results to come in.
It was at 5.30 when the results for the Bewl Bridge regatta finally came in and the whole junior crew piled into a zoom call. The result of the J16 boys’ row and run were announced first and with great astonishment, I heard my name called as the winner for both! Perhaps a mistake in the spreadsheet? But no, the results were official, and I had to try my hardest not to act overjoyed with the result as I did not want to embarrass myself on the call!
The results of the National Schools event came in the day after, since a 5k run was part of the competition on Sunday, and despite my lacklustre performance on the 5k, I still managed to place relatively well overall, achieving 7th in the 2k, 3rd in the 250m, and 7th overall out of the j16s. A big congratulations to Luca and Theo who placed 1st overall in their respective age categories in the National Schools event; and to Sam and Tamara who both won events over the weekend. It was a weekend that I enjoyed thoroughly, and I can’t wait to race again.
David Warwick, J16