Return to Caversham now in sight

In line with Stage Two of the government’s elite sport return to training guidance, British Rowing have put plans in place to get the GB Rowing Team back out on the water


Rebecca Shorten and Rowan McKellar at Olympic Trials back in March

Director of Performance Brendan Purcell said: “Our highest priority is the wellbeing of our athletes, staff and community and as such we are taking our time to make sure we get things right. We want to ensure that when the team does return to full training, they are able to do so in an environment that is safe and effective.”

Our senior GB rowers and staff are usually based at British Rowing’s national training centre in Caversham, but many have travelled back to stay with family around the UK since Caversham’s doors closed back in March. The squad are currently carrying out their training programmes from home using indoor rowing machines, bikes and home weights setups. In line with British Rowing’s advice to members, they are now also able to carry out on-water exercise in consultation with their coach. This is optional and not part of the core training programme; water activity is limited to low-intensity technical work for safety and to role model a gradual and safe return to on-water rowing.

However, with the rescheduled Olympic and Paralympic Games taking place in just over a year’s time, we have now given the GB squads a timeline for when central training will resume at Caversham. We are currently carrying out detailed planning of the new processes we will need to put in place for rowers to train at Caversham in a COVID-19 safe manner. Our team are carrying out essential deep cleaning and maintenance, as well as ordering PPE for our practitioners and staff both at Caversham and located in our other centres.

Throughout July we’ll be opening Caversham’s doors to a small cohort of GB athletes who are still living locally. This will enable us to test out our new COVID-19 processes and understand how we can scale things up to operate a training base for our full athlete group. The team will then take a summer break to recharge before we kick off our 2021 Olympic and Paralympic season in September.

Each person has different circumstances at the moment – whether that be to do with health, family, work or childcare – and as such our athletes and staff will need to go through an active opt-in process before they return to Caversham, supported by our chief medical officer, our psychologist and Performance Lifestyle advisors. A modified process will also be adopted by our World Class Start athletes training in remote centres around the UK.

Our British Rowing employed coaches based in England, such as our World Class Start coaches, have also been given the go-ahead to carry out coached sessions on the water in their clubs, subject to social distancing and all other Government and public health guidance. This requires extensive risk assessments with the individual venues and coaches and as such the training of our different centres will resume at different speeds.

Brendan added: “This has been a difficult year for the world and certainly an unprecedented year for everyone involved in Olympic and Paralympic sport. Through these unusual times we have seen our team of rowers, coaches and staff work together in new and exciting ways and we can go into the 2021 season full of confidence.”

Follow the team on Instagram @britishrowing.

The latest advice related to coronavirus for rowing clubs is available at

Clubs are reminded that there are special Government guidelines in place for elite sport and so some of the arrangements in place for the GB Rowing Team and associated programmes may not be appropriate for grassroots clubs..

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