Thames Tradesmen’s Twitter lockdown challenges

Since the COVID-19 lockdown started last month, Thames Tradesmen’s Rowing Club has been keeping its 750 Twitter followers entertained with weekly quizzes

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Doncaster rower Zoe Whitaker pictured in her rainbow kit

While clubs around the country are busy keeping members engaged with online training sessions and Zoom workouts, Thames Tradesmen’s Rowing Club has also been providing some light relief. Challenges include a scavenger hunt, GPS art competition, wearing rainbow kit – inspired by the NHS rainbow – and recreating a famous sporting event. A Doncaster rowing family recreated the 1992 Olympic final in the coxed pairs, where the Searle brothers famously won gold, in their back garden.

The creative spirit behind the challenges is Putney High School coach Pete Brewer who is passionate about reaching out to rowers and the wider community. In 2017 he was honoured with the British Rowing Coach of the Year Award for Education Development.

He says: “Elite rowers are already self-motivated, but for all the other rowers, it’s nice to involve and inspire them with these challenges. Not all of us have gardens and not all of us have gym equipment.

Everyone seems to be enjoying the lightheartedness during the lockdown

“I feel most sorry for the J13s and J14s as they’ve had all their events cancelled, so I wanted to keep them engaged in the sport.

“We’ve had a great response – I even had a chat with Castle Dore Rowing Club the other day. Everyone seems to be enjoying the lightheartedness during the lockdown.”

Prizes for the Twitter challenges have been generously supplied by Kate Giles at Crewroom.

Kate says: “I’m giving lots of products away in the form of prizes to keep the community motivated and working with clubs to come up with super fun challenges every weekend to try and put a smile on people’s faces.

“The mental health issues resulting in athletes suddenly being taken away from their routines should not be overlooked, clubs are the life of many people out there.”

Pete adds: “Like me, Kate just wants the sport to survive. She’s really bought into our ideas and, in the first challenge, she gave prizes to all 25 entries.”

A Doncaster rowing family recreated the 1992 Olympic final in their back garden

But the challenges are only one part of Pete’s wider club strategy called ‘Rowvelution’, aiming to reposition the club within the community by being open to all and diverse.

Situated in Chiswick, Thames Tradesmen’s had to close for 10 months after a dispute with Hounslow Council regarding their lease. This has been resolved in the club’s favour, so they can now progress with their long-term plans to bring the sport to the wider community.

“Thousands of people signed our petition to keep the club open, so we want to say thank you. Our aim is to give back to the rowing community.”

Pete says: “Sport needs to be enjoyed and I think we’ll come out from the virus stronger.

“We want to be a beacon of what a good rowing club means. There are many definitions of this, from Henley wins through to membership, but for us, it’s a club that engages with a wide spectrum of the community.

“The key thing is to enjoy your rowing. We want the club to be one that you don’t want to leave.”

To join in the Twitter competitions or find out more about Thames Tradesmen’s plans, follow @ThamesTradesmen 

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