Lincoln masters rowers set new world record

Lincoln masters rowers Rachel Bishop and Deborah Speed set a new world record for the longest tandem continual row in the 50-59 heavyweight category last month

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Rachel Bishop with Garry and Deborah Speed just before the challenge started

Rachel Bishop and Deborah Speed completed the longest tandem continual row in the 50-59 heavyweight category at Lincoln Rowing Centre last month. The new record has since been confirmed by Concept2.

Rachel said: “The whole club made it the success it was. Members made cakes (excellent ones) sold hot drinks, organised a raffle, came down and rowed alongside so that we were never once on our own in the whole 48 hours. Amazing team spirit.”

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Eight years ago, Deborah broke the world record for a solo row aged 50, completing 27 hours of rowing, and had been looking for someone “mad enough” at the club to join her in another challenge.

“Deb inspired me,” added Rachel. “She is a legend at our club. She has actually taught me to row from scratch, and I’m not naturally sporty at all so it was quite a challenge!

“Until recently I’d have said that this challenge was impossible, it’s pretty awesome discovering what you can do. We also wanted to raise money for a charity and for the club. This event has enabled us to buy a boat for the club, and we are really proud of being able to do that.”

BRIC gold medallist Deborah said of her more recent record: “It feels unreal at the moment, but it is sinking in.”

Training started seriously in September for the November row, often starting ridiculously early in the morning or late at night to fit in a five-hour row between work and family life.

“Rach and I met up once a week for a long row, building it up an hour every two weeks until we got to six hours – we did this twice as we should have done the row back in April 2019 and then also a week after COVID hit the UK.

“Training is about getting the body used to long rows and to work out outfits that do not cause sores.

“Listen to your body, always warm up and cool down. Pilates is great to keep the body in good shape.”

Deborah first started rowing indoors when her daughter was small and had swimming lessons in the nearby pool.

She recalled: “Years later, I was approached by a rower in the gym who set me off on a training regime and soon after I joined Lincoln Rowing Centre and became obsessed with getting faster and stronger.”

Indoor rowing – and on-water rowing – has offered both rowers a way of keeping fit and challenging their expectations, but it’s also provided camaraderie and fun.

Deborah said: “Rachel joined Lincoln Rowing Centre about three years ago along with a group of ladies that have breathed fresh air into the club with fun and enthusiasm for what was just another life challenge and has turned into an obsession.”

“The masters scene is amazing,” added Rachel. “It’s a great group of like-minded fun people and we mix really well with the other elements of club, like the university crews.”

But there is always another challenge to train for. With the Vesta Vets Head next March on their radar, both are looking forward to training back on the water in the club’s masters eight.

Rachel said: “Jimmy, one of the founders of the club once told me, ‘if it was easy, everyone would be doing it’. This mantra keeps me going and keeps me trying to be better.  There is always room for improvement and growth.

“I want to be 80 years old and still paddling up that river.”

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