Following the recent successes of the women’s boat club at the BUCS Victor Ludorum, I had a chat with the club to talk about their outstanding performances. Isabel Cole, the club captain, and the captain of the senior women’s squad, Seun Olusanya, met me in Devonshire House, ready to reveal all the details about the boat club’s successes.
We started talking about the Victor Ludorum competitions, a series of races during the bank holiday weekend, from the 29 April to 1 May. Cole was excited about it, yet also pointed to previous successes: “We won gold in the BUCS competitions earlier on this year in February, which shows how dedicated everyone has become.”
All sports clubs presumably have ambitions for their teams, and the current focus for the women’s rowing club is to win at the upcoming international competitions. Cole has high ambitions for the club: “This year we finished within the top ten throughout the UK,” but the girls want more. “It would be amazing if we could finish within the top five this year.”
We shifted the focus of the conversation onto the less exciting administrative processes of the club, specifically the topic of boat allocations. The selection of different crews comes under the discretion of the Director of Rowing, who they refer to as their coach. Cole pointed out that the wide variety of boats and team allocations available make it possible for athletes to trial for up to 14 different categories. The versatility of the boats consists of “eight person boats, four person boats, and even ones that are divided amongst a pair.”
Cole and Olusanya also contribute to the selection of crews, as the club’s aim is to ultimately secure victories for both intermediate and championship competitions. Of course, Cole pointed out that physical abilities were a key factor as allocations also depend on “ergo scores that come through during training sessions and also who is rowing best in the water.”
“It would be amazing if we could finish within the top five this year.”
Both the captains gave off friendly vibes – an attitude that seems to be reflected throughout the club, but this doesn’t seem to come without facing a couple of challenges. “Admittedly, our main friendship group is within the club, but it can be quite tricky sometimes as you’re also competing against your friends for the crew seats.”
Speaking from personal experience, Cole commented on the convenience of coordinating with team mates: “Generally, you row with people of a similar standard as you throughout the year, which also allows you to bond with them and coordinate better for different events.” The “girls squad being cohesive” helped a lot during some of the more intense times.
Being an athlete and a student requires a balance of priorities, but it seems like they’ve got it all figured out. Two training sessions a week that add up to approximately 20 hours of training fit into an intensive schedule. All athletes at University face challenges such as balancing their sport, degree and social life. However, for senior captain Olusanya, who is on a medical placement, time management challenges stretch out even further than merely maintaining a social life.
Aside from university-focused discussions, the captains were thrilled to talk about national competitions, independent from BUCS. The Henley competitions have stolen the spotlight during the summer season. International qualifications are expected at these competitions and there are athletes from all around the world competing. There are high hopes for the Exeter women’s rowing club, following their determination for the Henley competitions. Getting through to the finals in previous years has trained them for an ultimate success, as Cole has ambitious expectations: “We want to win.”