For promising teenage rowers, the Diploma in Sporting Excellence is a win-win

Applications are closing soon for the Diploma in Sporting Excellence. The qualification is a great way to further your rowing while studying so don’t miss out!


Training on the River Tyne (c) Beth Laidlow

Open to teenagers aged between 16-18 years old, the Diploma in Sporting Excellence (DiSE) programme has attracted rowers such as GB rowers Jack Beaumont and Jess Leyden who have benefitted from the specialist rowing curriculum alongside an academic qualification.

DiSE is a part-time two-year course for promising young rowers who have the talent and determination to progress into the GB Rowing Team. The programme covers topics that all potential GB athletes are required to understand including technique, race planning, sports ethics and career planning.

Applications for the 2022/23 Diploma close at 5pm on Thursday 30 June, so make sure you don’t miss out!

Meet a DiSE student

To find out more about DiSE, we talked to Erin from Tyne Amateur Rowing Club, who is in her second year of the Diploma.

Tell us how you came into rowing…

Erin: My first experience rowing was at an open day for my secondary school in 2015. I vividly remember winning the erg competition that day wearing UGG boots and leggings! At that time, nobody else in my family rowed so my dad got in touch with his friend from work who kindly organised a taster session for me at Tyne ARC. The teamwork and intensity that I saw amongst the older juniors had such a strong impact on me, and from then on, I was hooked!

My first win was at the Ponteland Junior Head in the W14 4x+ category (a very memorable win, as it was on home water) and I have gone on to take part in virtually all of the competitions offered to me, with my favourites being the Women’s Eights Head of the River Race (WEHoRR), Henley Women’s Regatta, and the Boston Marathon.

After rowing for six years and making such strong happy memories with old and new friends, I have no plans on quitting! I am hoping to join a high-performance programme at university this coming September, where I will row alongside studying for a law degree.

“The opportunity to gain a meaningful qualification in something that I am so passionate about was a no-brainer”

What made you apply for DiSE?

Erin: I had heard about DiSE from my mentor Eddie at a women’s training day in Durham. I knew some other girls from my region that were at the time involved with the DiSE programme, and they had only positive things to say about it!

The opportunity to gain a meaningful qualification – alongside my A-levels – in something that I am so passionate about was a no-brainer.

I knew from talking to Eddie that DiSE would supplement my rowing performance with workshops and resources that otherwise are limited to the top senior athletes in the country. This was extremely appealing to me, as I knew for certain that I had high ambitions and expectations for myself in rowing, but I wasn’t sure how I could achieve them outside of training. The nutritional advice, strength and conditioning skills, and financial awareness that the DiSE course offered was the obvious step forward for me, as the rowers that I knew had recently graduated the course were well-rounded athletes, and successful ones too.

How are you finding it?

Erin: My experience with DiSE has been very positive; I have a good relationship with my tutor, and we are able to work around my school and rowing schedule to organise progress reviews and address any issues that I have been having.

I have received so much support in the past year and a half in terms of nutrition talks, goal-setting and sports psychology webinars, technical advice and financial advice that now I have a wealth of knowledge and transferrable skills that I can take with me beyond the DiSE programme, such as to university and senior rowing and beyond.

The great thing about all of this is that it is never overwhelming – everything is spaced out in order to accommodate schoolwork and peak times in the competition season, which allows us all to have a social life on top of rowing (if such a thing exists!). I have been able to stay on top of my DiSE portfolio by completing tasks in quieter times, meaning that DiSE is never a hindrance to me.

“Before I started DiSE, I used to experience terrible nerves before a race”

What parts of DiSE are you liking the most?

Erin: The aspect of the course that I enjoy the most is the ‘elite athlete environment’ section, which focuses on sports psychology and being a positive member of the squad.

Before I started DiSE, I used to experience terrible nerves before a race. The talks and webinars which Katie and Emily have given us have changed how I think, so I am now much more easily able to dismiss my negative thoughts and condition the way I think in order to produce the best-possible outcome for me.

The thing that I love about this is that I am actively able to see the positive impact that these skills have had on me in the form of increased confidence, personal bests in the gym, and less nerves when I get on the water for a race. This has been especially important this year, as I have been training with the Tyne ARC senior women for WEHoRR, and, potentially, will be training with them again for Henley Royal Regatta in summer. I feel as though DiSE has equipped me with the skills which otherwise would have taken years to learn on my own.

How is it changing your approach to rowing?

Erin: DiSE has had such a positive influence on my approach to rowing in more ways than one. Race plans, nutrition, and mental toughness are things which I am much more informed of now, which has, I believe, made me more accountable for my own performance. I would say that I had the basic foundations of understanding rowing from my four and a half years of rowing before DiSE, but it was nothing compared to the resources and knowledge which I now have.

Ambitions for the rest of the season?

Erin: My plans for the upcoming season are not yet set in stone, but with the help of DiSE and my amazing coaches Beth, Thomas, and John, I was invited to the GB Spring Assessments in March. I am hopeful that I will have a strong performance at GB trials in April, and hopefully make the junior team.

Aside from trials, I am looking to achieve a good result at the British Rowing Junior Championships in July, and, hopefully, end my junior campaign with a strong performance at Henley Royal Regatta.

“DiSE is a win-win”

Would you recommend that people apply to DiSE, and if so, why?

Erin: I strongly recommend DiSE to other aspiring junior athletes looking to develop their rowing ability. The skills which I have learned in such a short period of time have made an immeasurable difference and there are so many aspects of the course that are both practical and interesting. As well as this, the opportunities to learn from other like-minded athletes on camp and through webinars and workshops is something which is a strong motivator and adds an element of fun!

DiSE is a win-win.

Find out more

Find out more about the Diploma in Sporting Excellence here and apply for the 2022/2023 Diploma here.

Applications close at 5pm on Thursday 30 June.