Swapping Caversham for the Indian Ocean – Imogen Walsh’s coaching trip to the Maldives
World champion Imogen Walsh is in the middle of a six-month coaching role in the Maldives, helping to develop the nation’s rowers
It’s been a bit of a change of scenery for Imogen Walsh since winning World Championships gold in August, swapping Caversham for the Maldives to work with the nation’s growing number of rowers.
Imogen, who took gold in the quadruple sculls in Rotterdam, has moved to the islands in the Indian Ocean for six months to develop the Rowing Association of the Maldives.
Her coaching is made possible by support from World Rowing, Rowing Association Maldives, Olympic Solidarity, and British Rowing, and the challenge is to increase participation in the nation – especially amongst women, to help them gain more independence and their ability to get out on the water.
There is also a parallel objective to create a high performance stream to enable the country’s rowers to possibly reach the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“The strangest thing about being here in the Maldives is the fact that, well, that it often doesn’t seem that strange at all. I worried I might feel a bit out of place, a bit lonely, and perhaps wish I was back training full time…” she writes in her blog, which goes by the tagline ‘working hard at not working a real job’.
“Of course I do miss people back home, and I’d be lying if there wasn’t a pang of envy when I spoke to those going back to training at Caversham the other week. But in the three weeks I’ve been here, I feel surprisingly at home.”
It’s not just Imogen’s daily routine that has changed out in the Maldives – her clothing choices will have been made easier by the region’s tropical temperatures.
With the country enjoying over 225 hours of sun on average in November, and temperatures averaging a balmy 27 degrees Celsius, conditions are slightly different from those experienced during a British winter.
But sometimes good weather is as difficult to teach rowing in as bad weather, as Imogen found out with one of her classes.
“Apparently the reason some girls didn’t attend the 2pm session, is because it’s too sunny and they don’t want a tan! Not a problem I’ve had coaching in the UK…” she writes. “I’d imagine most junior coaches have their work cut out keeping their athletes covered up, not trying to get them out of the shade… Simple answer? Move their session to another time of the day.”
Imogen follows in the footsteps of the likes of Rebecca Romero and Tash Howard, who have previously taken their Olympic experience the Maldives to the benefit of the local rowers.
Read more about Imogen’s work and adventures on her online blog