Laura Neild, from Champs women’s first boat describes how she got into rowing:
“Before getting into rowing I had run to stay fit, but had never done any competitive sport. A friend who rowed at Champs kept saying I would like rowing, but I was pretty insistent that I just wasn’t a sporty person etc. Then my kids got into rowing and I discovered I was running up and down the tow path yelling my head off, because I found the racing exciting. I went to watch Bumps, again with my friend Belinda, and told her I’d realised I really should give it a go, and how would I go about it?
I signed up for the induction course at Champs the next spring and was in my first race only 3 months later. We were pretty wobbly and slow, but I thought it was really exciting. I had caught the bug. I was having a great time with my crew – such a lovely mix of people from all different countries and a real mix of ages and aspirations. I enjoyed being part of a team, as well as going for breakfast after an outing. At the same time, I was getting fitter and gradually starting to realise that I might be a slightly more competitive than I had previously thought…
After a year I was fast enough to move to senior squad, where I got a lot of coaching and support, which I needed since I really was still fairly new to the sport and had quite a few kinks in my technique to iron out. Last summer, after a few more months and some incredibly helpful coaching, the W1 crew took me to Henley Masters, which was absolutely terrifying, but wonderful. Immediately afterwards came bumps – a crazy week of racing every night, and social events. Champs did really well this year, and I was lucky enough to be in one of the boats who won their blades. I would definitely recommend going to watch the bumps on Grassy Corner to anyone wondering if the might be interested in giving rowing a try. It’s definitely the best race on the Cam for spectators.
My first two years of rowing have made me feel part of a community, have improved my health and fitness (my cholesterol is right down!) and have been massively enjoyable. I have spent 1 year each in the lower boats and senior boats and have met a variety of lovely, warm and genuine people in both. This year I’m looking forward to learning to scull in a single, without feeling like I might go swimming at any moment! And I’ve signed up as joint inductions officer, so if you fancy trying rowing at any level, just get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.