For us, the end of 2008 was soon followed by the much appreciated end of lonely holiday training. We arrived at Dorney Lake bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready for training camp. The weather was not our friend, however, as the lake had almost completely frozen over. Not to be deterred, we exchanged a few snowballs and scuttled off in search of less icy waters. Henley Rowing Club saved the day by letting us use their boathouse, so the following morning we found ourselves rowing up and down our Boat Race course. Ideal!
Five days of water sessions and hours of video analysis culminated in a 2k race. One disadvantage in Henley was the river not being quite wide enough to race all three eights side by side over the 2k course, so instead we raced in procession, against the clock. A little less exciting but nonetheless very valuable since we all had quick Trial Eights’ 2k times, including the 500m splits, to improve upon.
This was a great opportunity to familiarise ourselves with the river. Unlike at Dorney where huge signs appear every 250 metres like clockwork, the distance markers on the Henley stretch are a little more… subtle. This does of course add to its charm but makes it tricky for coxes to get the timing of their calls right in a 2k race. However, by the end of camp, many laps later, the course was firmly imprinted in all of our minds and we were well set up for our return in race week.
Now it’s crunch time. The second and final round of seat-racing approaches, soon after which the three crews, Blue boat, Blondie and the Lightweights will be set. Our coaches of course take great care to be thorough but this part of the process is stressful and puts everybody on edge. It’s in everyone’s interest to get the squad settled into crews sooner rather than later as then we can all focus on improving as a crew rather than just individually – essential for speedy rowing! Bring on the Head of the Trent!