I am A Rower ...
LISTEN TO SINÉAD’S STORY
“The biggest thing for me is not giving up and continuing to push past the voice in my head that says, ‘it’s too hard’.”
I live 10 minutes away from the club and every time I walked past I would watch people out on the river and it looked like an amazing experience, so I signed up for the Lea’s Learn to Row course. Unfortunately, COVID happened two months after I had applied and it was another two years before I was actually able to start.
I’d assumed that rowing was a flexible, relaxed kind of thing. I didn’t anticipate how much you need to show up in all ways, and how much commitment you have to put in to be successful, off the water as well as on it. You can’t wake up and say, ‘I’m not really feeling it’. You really need to be reliable for your crew.
The course also introduced me to so many – lovely – people I’d never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. I was pleasantly surprised at the diversity at the Lea and that I could really be myself there. Growing up gay I’d had some quite negative experiences of team sports where I had not felt welcomed, and I was quite anxious about joining any team or organisation because I’d expected that to happen again – but no one batted an eyelid.
I’m still not sure if I see myself as a rower – I’ve only been rowing for a year in the novice squad, so I feel like I haven’t really got my credentials yet. But rowing has given me self-esteem, self-confidence and a place where I’m happy and feel that I’m good at something. In rowing you see people at their best and at their worst, when they’re struggling and pushing through in a race for example, and it brings you all together.
I don’t have incredibly bold aspirations for my rowing career – more lots of smaller aspirations that build into a larger one. The biggest thing for me though is to not give up and to continue to push past the voice in my head that says, ‘it's too hard’.
Before I started rowing, I remember seeing beautiful pink sky early mornings and wishing I was on the river. Recently, I was out in a single on the water on one of those mornings for the first time – and it was an unbelievably perfect moment.