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Row, Row, Row Your Boat…

Written by Anna Betteridge, posted on Friday, November 27, 2020

Anna Betteridge, Women's Captain of the Christ Church Boat Club, describes how the College's rowers are coping with Covid.

One of the Christ Church boats on the river before the current lockdown‘Unprecedented’ is certainly the word of the moment, and the start to college rowing’s 2020-21 season has been no exception. As an institution which has stood for more than 200 years, though, it may come as no surprise that Christ Church Boat Club has continued to adapt and thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a 2019 novice, I have been denied many of the joys of Oxford college rowing: Torpids, Summer Eights, or even managing to row on a non-flooded Isis more than a handful of times! I hoped that this year would make up for some of those lost opportunities, and though lockdown has again robbed our squads of some of these joys, Michaelmas Term 2020 has certainly had its high points.

Our season got off to a flying start with more than 120 sign-ups for our novice programme and an excess of 50 new or returning members of our senior squads. In the first few weeks of term we were able to take to the water again and lay the foundations for the season ahead. My fellow 2019 novices finally got to experience the delights of regular water training, and even came to look quite at home in our senior boats. Our term of on-the-water rowing concluded with the first Isis Winter League of the academic year in early November, with the club fielding two eights and five fours. Our women’s fours placed first and second in the W4+ category, a fitting start to our racing season as we celebrate 40 years of women at Christ Church.

One of Christ Church’s eights on the river before the current lockdownOur Novice Captains have also been working exceptionally hard over the course of the term to give our 2020 novices the best start to their rowing careers as possible. Before the beginning of lockdown, our novices were completing a training programme of ergs, runs and outings within their crews. As a rower who has only just moved past my ‘novice’ status, I’ve been blown away by the standard of our intake this year. Though Christ Church Regatta sadly had to be cancelled due to lockdown restrictions, I have no doubt that all of our novices would have done the House proud!

The club has continued to pull together (though our coaches continually remind is that rowing is about pushing rather than pulling) over lockdown. Our novices have found an outlet for their competitive drive through the Christ Church Lockdown Regatta, organised by our Novice Captains. Challenges have included ‘Horseplay’, ‘Do it for the (ana)gram’ and, perhaps my favourite, ‘Tourists in your own Town’. We’ve had crew entries from seven colleges, including one from Christ Church JCR, as our novice crews attempt to defend our double victory from Christ Church Regatta last year. The link to the leader-board is here for those who are as invested in another House victory as I am:

Aside from the Lockdown Regatta, our seniors have been training hard through a mix of scheduled independent activities and squad Zoom sessions. We’re in the process of setting goals and making gains ahead of our return to the water, with our eyes set firmly on bumps and blades for Torpids and Eights. With our new base at Sandford Lock set to be ready for training in the new year, an unrivalled coaching team and an unwaveringly committed squad, the 2021 racing season is set to be an ‘unprecedentedly’ good one for the House.

If you’re interested in joining the Boat Club, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with either of our Captains:

-       Anna Betteridge, Women’s Captain

-       Sebastien Laclau, Men’s Captain