We've been lax on our race reports ... but they're coming back! Here is the first of the year's round ups; starting with the Senior Women.
The women started with a strong and motivated existing squad; with a few Henley Women's Qualifiers returning, minus our Canadian superstar! An exciting fresh intake of schoolgirl rowers gave us some sculling experts and some strong novices quickly worked their way up into the senior squad. Things were looking good. The goal was set out early by coach, Chris Littlefair and captain, Alice Vodden, to qualify an 8+ for Henley Women's Regatta.
We tackled Nottingham Autumn Head as our first race, sending three fours, before we refined our top crew for Fours Head. Fours Head saw our top four place 11th in a category of 17. Not the start we wanted, but there was space to work on a lot of things and a lot of enthusiasm and motivation within the squad. Winter Camp came next, with a solid week of work at Wallingford showing great potential for the squad.
After Christmas, three 8+'s took to the water for Quintin Head. 2 weeks off and January exams took their toll on performance for the 1st 8+, but the 2nd 8+ showed our strength and depth with a fast time in their category, resulting in a place of 3rd out of 14 crews. A week later, 2K tests saw PB after PB- the fitness was there and we were ready to translate it to the water.
Throughout Term 2, the squads strength in depth strengthened and individual improvements shone through. Respectable results came at Henley Head; 2nd in our category for the 1st 8+. WeHoRR was the big one; the 1st 8 came a very respectable 107th, but the squad still felt like there was more to achieve.
Luckily, it was then time for Easter Camp, where our progress exploded (in a good way!). Aerobic endurance became threshold fitness as we specialised on the 1500m distance. Novices stepped up, slotting into experienced crews well and we used the side by side experience of Mimizan to seat race and test our coxes to the max. Chris Littlefair commented,
"Here, we learned to push as a team, work as a team, everything stepped up- even the debriefs had a new ethic and determination- our intelligence became our strength- and for the first time we saw the crews trusting each other to push for every stroke".
From Easter Camp to BUCS, we kept our foot on the accelerator. The 1st 8+ successfully qualified for a competitive A/B Semi Final with our best split yet. We saw a 5th place in the B final - an impressive and exciting result for us. We knew exam season was about to hit and the whole squad committed to the earliest training sessions of the whole year, intense ergs and tests, training together as a close-knit squad. We were looking ahead at Met Regatta and Henley Women's with high hopes and tonnes of ambition.
We arrived at Henley, 8 underdogs and 1 cox, entirely ready for what was to come. We needed to come top 16 out of 28 crews to stand a chance of racing on the famous course. And, we did it! We drew Brookes in the first round, unfortunately, but truly enjoyed and took pride in our last race together as a crew- especially for those whose last race it was in Warwick colours. We'd like to thank Chris for his continuous support and expertise. We also cannot thank our captain, Alice Vodden, enough. She battled with operation after operation all year and managed to keep happy, motivational and dedicated- we can't wait to have you back after your year abroad!
Our Henley 8+ was; Cox- Shaan Jivan, Stroke- Laura McGaffin, 7- Francesca Lidlow, 6- Orla Miller, 5- Dubheasa Lanipekun, 4- Sara Mahmad-Marshall, 3- Millie Dixon, 2- Niamh MacElvogue, Bow- Josie Parr.
We're very much looking forward to the year ahead. Training hard continues over summer, ready for pre-season in September. See you then!