Rowing Camp 2020

Rowing Camp 2020 

Goring Gap Boat Club 

The Rowing Camp has been postponed to Michaelmas Half-Term (provisional dates 1-4 November 2020). If the Government restrictions are still in place in November then we will defer the Camp to 2021.


Easter Camp 2019

The Blog

Day Six | Saturday 20 April

Going Home! But not before we had cleared our rooms and said farewell to our lovely hosts at YHA Streatley. At Upper Thames our rowers did their final pieces in small boats and we finished off our camp with some scratch crew doubles races, which were won by Alex Owen and Zara Povey. Well Done!

Then there was no more to be done but to pack up the trailer and head back up the motorway to Worcester.

We enjoyed a great week of rowing and we couldn’t have asked for better weather.

We would like to thank everyone at Upper Thames Rowing Club who made us feel so welcome and arranged a quiet space for study periods. Thank you also to Streatley Youth Hostel who provided hearty breakfasts and dinners, and packed lunches. And, when the showers in the hostel broke down they arranged for us to go to a local school to use the showers if we needed to (luckily UTRC has plenty of hot water). THANK YOU!

Thanks also to our brilliant, and patient, rowing coaches Mrs Foister, Miss Tuckwood and Mr Kearns - we couldn't have done it without you!

Day Five | Friday 19 April

The weather forecasters had promised hot weather and hot weather is what we got, which was a welcome change from the 2018 Rowing Camp! Sun cream was applied. Hats were on. Water bottles were regularly filled. Despite the weather there was still work to be done. Illness had unfortunately reduced the senior boys’ quad to two. Alex Owen was subbed in to the two seat  and Mr Kearns was tempted to reprise his sculling career with an invitation to sit in the stroke seat. What we didn’t tell him was that the session was 6 x 1.5k pieces with three of them at race pace. He survived!

Our senior girls’ double was also working hard with pieces up and down the Henley Reach – the senior rowers notched up a blistering 24k today!

At the end of training it was clear that we all needed to cool off. Staff had a nice cuppa while the rowers took the plunge . . . literally (all fully risk assessed first, of course).

It was our final evening in the Youth Hostel and we enjoyed a review of the week and our awards night. By now down to 12 rowers these were short and sweet!

Our hair and beauty awards went to Phoebe Ellis-Tait and Olivia Middleton (Olivia’s use of charcoal face masks had given Mrs Sullivan quite a fright in the corridor this week…).

The J15 girls were awarded our Smile Award – tubes of toothpaste – because every time we saw them they looked happy!

Adam Smith who had enjoyed his first ever Turkish Barber hair cut in Henley on Thursday was given a bar of Turkish Delight to remind him of the experience.

Star of the Week was Emma Little who worked hard coaching and coxing the J15 girls and generally being proactive around the camp.

Hero of the Week was Ben Walker who was moved from stroke to bow of the quad, learnt to steer in about five minutes and ‘made the boat go faster’.

Day Four | Thursday 18 April

We said farewell to the boys who had opted for the mini-camp and as they headed back to Worcester for revision or family holidays the remaining campers enjoyed a relaxing morning of free time in Henley-on-Thames.

After lunch we enjoyed a visit from former RGS Worcester pupil and Chief Coach of the GB Paralympic Team, Tom Dyson. Tom took a break from preparing for GB Trials to give some coaching tips to our senior rowers. It was great to have some expertise from the top of GB rowing and our rowers valued the insight into the GB Rowing programme. They were intrigued by the GB Rowing policy of throwing away any unattended water bottles (this is to prevent tampering with athletes’ drinks) and Tom told the rowers that high attendance rates at rowing training, even at GB level, equated to medal-winning potential. Good to hear it from the top!

Day Three | Wednesday 17 April

Dorney Day! One of the highlights of any rowing camp in the Thames Valley is a trip to Dorney Lake for some multi-lane training. We were up early – breakfast at 7am – and on the road by 8am. The lake was heaving with elite rowers in training for GB Trials. We arrived just as they were finishing their first sessions so the lake was fairly quiet by the time we boated. We had a mix of boats including coxless quads with a range of age groups, coxed quad and doubles. In the second session we also put out a pair and some singles.

It was a beautiful day – perfect for an Easter Egg Hunt. Mrs Sullivan had hidden 43 Easter Eggs in the woods near the minibus, which were very quickly found by our J15 rowers. Dorney Lake very kindly opened up a boat bay, set up with tables and chairs, so that our seniors could continue their revision while the J15s took part in a Yoga Session followed by Easter Egg Hunt. Miss Tuckwood then took the J15s to Longridge at Marlow for a team building activity – the infamous Jacob’s Ladder.

It was a very long day for all the rowers but well worth the effort. Mrs Sullivan was particularly pleased with the Senior quad who rowed 4k square blade and got up to rate 38…all squared. The senior girls’ quad and the J15 girls quad also made rapid progress. Unfortunately, there was one capsize when the pair fell in at the 1500m mark and had to walk their boat back to the trailer! 1500m seems a long way in sliders…

As it was the final evening for the boys on the mini-camp we held a mini-awards ceremony with prizes for hard work and great steering to George Garrity, the Cinderella Prize to Nik Judge (who did a lot of clearing up at breakfast time) and the Swimming Award to Alex Owen and Jack Beasley for their performance at Dorney!

Day Two | Tuesday 16 April

We stayed at Streatley Youth Hostel and enjoyed a full English breakfast and as much toast, cereal, fruit and yoghurt as a hungry rower could manage. We were all in bunk beds – even the coaches – and managed some sleep! Everyone had conked out by about 10pm (as per the rules) and wok up refreshed and raring to go.

The format of the day was that everyone did two rowing sessions and there were two study periods for those rowers taking public and internal exams (i.e. all of them). Upper Thames had kindly allocated us a room for silent study which was well used.

The senior rowers put in plenty of mileage – at least 12k per session and it’s safe to say that they were quite tired by the end of the day!

Day One  |  Monday 15 April

Upper Thames Rowing Club at Henley-on-Thames was the venue for the 2019 Easter Rowing Camp. This year 19 rowers signed up for the camp. With Easter late, and exams looming, seven rowers opted for the three-night mini-camp and 12 for the full five-night camp.

The Thames at Henley was like glass when we arrived and we quickly set about unloading the trailer and embarking for our first outing. With 3k of water to play with our rowers and coaches quickly learnt the circulation rules and it was a marvellous experience to be rowing in the most famous regatta course in the world with the beautiful Temple Island as a backdrop.


Easter Rowing Camp 2018: Marlow and Dorney Lake

Rowing Camp 2018 - The blog

Posted 14 April 2018 - apologies for the blog / Twitter feed not being updated during the Camp, there was no Wi-fi at Longridge and the boat house phone / school laptop / iPad are not set up for 4G. So here is the week's blog all at once, we hope you enjoy reading it. More pictures will be uploaded over the next few days.

Easter Rowing Camp 2018

Mud, mud, mud. It has been raining in Marlow . . . A LOT. The Thames is on Red Boards, the Longridge Outdoor Centre looks like a Mud Runner course. We are living in wellies and waterproofs...

Mrs Sullivan’s notes from Day One

Having spent the week after Easter glued to the Government River Levels website Mrs Sullivan quickly realised that Easter Camp 2018 was not going to go to plan! After several phone calls and a tense wait to find out if Dorney Lake could accommodate us for the whole week it was with great relief when the call came back in the affirmative! Yes, Dorney could take us from Tuesday to Friday, but not Saturday. The Rowing Camp was going to happen, although not quite as planned.


On Monday morning we loaded up the trailer and set off down the M40 through driving rain. The Longridge trailer park was a mud-bath and a quick inspection of the river revealed a seething, angry stream that showed no sign of abating. After settling into our bunkrooms at Longridge the rowers ran to Marlow Rowing Club where they ‘enjoyed’ a session of ergos, weights and circuits. The Pasta Bolognese and Salad evening meal saw clean plates all round!

The evening activity on Monday was a goal setting challenge, one of a series of sports psychology activities that the coaches had planned for the week. We explained ego goals (I’m Going To WIN!’) and mastery goals (I’m Going to Perfect Square Blade Paddling). Rowers were asked to come up with their What, How and Now goals:

What: I want to make the final at Nat Schools

How: I’m going to attend all the training sessions

Now: Today I’m going to focus on square finishes

Our aim was for rowers to realise that non-specific goals such as ‘I want to get fitter’ are less effective than specific goals such as ‘I’m going to get fit by doing two runs every week.’ Time will tell if the messages have been taken on board . . .

Star of the Day was awarded to Madeleine Atkinson J14 for her very hard work in the gym at Marlow.

Mrs Sullivan then announced that use of phones was being limited on Camp to one hour per day. Shock and disbelief rippled through the assembled company. Surely, she could not be serious? But, yes, she was. Phones were duly collected and locked up for safekeeping until after dinner the next day.


Tuesday morning dawned grey and dull...but dry after some overnight rain. The senior rowers set to some serious revision while the J14-15s went to Dorney Lake to set up their boats. The schedule for the week was for Seniors to revise after breakfast then head to the Lake for a double session in the afternoon.

The J14-15 girls rowed a double and coxed quad while the J15 boys polished up their small boats technique. With 8k racked up, the group then returned to Longridge for lunch and ergo challenges.

Senior rowers, Adam Smith and Edward Smith tried out the new Kangua double, named David Packman – and pronounced it ‘amazing’. Meanwhile four of the J16 boys were in the coxed four trialling for a seat in the four that would race at Junior Inter-Regional Regatta. The senior girls rowed their coxed four training for Evesham and NSR.

After dinner, rowers were allowed their one hour of ‘phone time’. Several rowers texted home to ask if parents had given their permission to confiscate phones and there was a resounding YES! (Thank you, parents, for your support on this – we found our rowers much more focused without their phones.)

Our evening meeting was spent analysing film of our rowers in action during the day.

Star of the Day was Mia Fletcher for her fantastic attitude and cheerfulness.

Numpty of the Day was awarded to the two J15 boys who left their blades on the pontoon at Dorney after their session (for other rowers to put away!). (I won’t publicly name and shame but we know who you are!)

We celebrated Mrs Foister’s birthday with balloons, presents and TWO cakes – a wonderful home-made concoction made by Matthew Hill (covered in sweets and chocolates) and a chocolate and cream confection supplied by a local bakery in Marlow. The senior girls also organised a helium balloon which will be a reminder of Mrs Foister’s landmark birthday for a while to come!

Drew Dixon took on the role of rowing camp entertainer and organised the seniors and staff in a raucous game of Botticelli. All good fun.


Wednesday morning dawned grey, dull, wet and early for the J15 boys who had earned the right to a 6.30am early morning run by leaving their oars on the landing stage at Dorney, lateness, and keeping staff members awake on the first night! They actually enjoyed being out in the great outdoors before breakfast, and so did Mr Kearns who put the boys through their paces.

Dorney Lake was very crowded in the morning with top rowers from Leander and University of London in training for GB Senior trials at the weekend. We made sure our youngsters kept well out of the way but told them to watch and learn from the World and Olympic champions out on the water.

The J15 boys went out in small boats again and the girls were in their quad and double. For the seniors, there was a mix of quads, doubles, singles and the four.

During the afternoon session, the J15 girls and boys embarked on a team-building activity back at Longridge – Jacob’s Ladder, which required teams of three to help each other to the top of a very tall ladder. There was much screaming and shouting and fun.

The evening meal of chicken, chips and sweetcorn, followed by chocolate crispy cakes and fruit proved very popular.

The evening’s psychology challenge started with an ‘icebreaker’ – the rowers conversed with each other in small groups to find out one unusual fact about each person. There were some very interesting tales to tell from ‘being detained in Egypt’ to ‘owning a puffer fish’.

The groups were then asked to write down words on a Post-it note to explain how they feel when they are being coached – for example, being picked out in a crew and told to improve an aspect of their technique. The Post-its were then grouped into Negative and Positive feelings about being coached. Sadly, the negative far outweighed the positive with rowers saying they felt ‘picked on’, ‘nervous’, ‘worried’ etc. On the positive side, some rowers reported that they felt coaching would improve their rowing, they felt ‘helped’.

Mrs Sullivan explained the concept of Fixed Mindset (I can’t do it) and Growth Mindset (I can’t do it YET) and asked the rowers to challenge their feelings about being coached to see it as a positive thing, that coaches would not spend time helping them improve if they did not feel it was worth doing! Many rowers reported that they had not viewed coaching in that light before and had found the exercise revealing (the coaches agreed!).

Star of the Day was awarded to James Larkin for his excellent attitude to training and his progress in the single.

Numpties of the Day were awarded to the senior quad which managed to boat backwards from the ‘off’ pontoon at Dorney (we know who you are!).


Thursday dawned grey, dull, and dry… by now everyone was in the routine of 8am breakfast, 8.30am J14-15s to Dorney while seniors studied, 11am seniors to Dorney, whole group lunch at Dorney . . . today we decided to coach the whole group of 27 in the afternoon at Dorney which was a challenge in terms of boat use and logistics (as we only had one minibus to ferry rowers back and forwards to Longridge) but it worked.

By now, some of our rowers were tired. Rowing up to 16k at a time is a big ask. However, we asked our rowers to spare a thought for our coaches who were cycling the same distance as they were rowing!

Tonight’s meal was burgers, wedgies and salad, followed by jelly and ice-cream.

The evening meeting was led by Miss Tuckwood who asked the rowers to design the ‘Perfect Rower’. In their groups the rowers set to work and there was a healthy buzz of discussion. Each group posted their picture or their design on the board and talked through their idea of the perfect rower. There were lots of ideas from ‘height, muscles, and technique’ to ‘clean, drug-free, committed, and willing’. Miss Tuckwood and Mr Kearns had also designed their ideal rower which was: ‘good listener, growth mindset, balanced diet, flexible, committed, passionate about their sport, and positive’. Something we can all aspire to!

Star of the Day was awarded to Alex Owen for his resilience and his ‘can-do’ attitude.

Numpty of the Day was awarded to Mrs Sullivan for persistently losing the keys for the minibus, the keys for the tow truck, the boat house phone, her phone, her bike . . . (for the record: all found shortly after being lost).


Friday dawned dull, grey, but dry (there’s a bit of a theme here) . . . and the J16 boys enjoyed a pre-breakfast 50 shuttle runs of the Longridge car park and a lecture on why it’s not a good idea to keep staff members awake by talking until the early hours of the morning!

As it was our last day we had planned some mixed racing at Dorney for the afternoon. In the morning the J15s rowed in their crews with a few senior rowers who wanted to do small boats. Alec Berry and Matt Hill rowed singles with the Go-Pro for company, while Drew Dixon and Harry Chaplin took their first outing in the Cobra rigged as a pair. The first senior session saw more small boats including Ben Walker and Jack Beasley in the Cobra to hone their sweep skills for the four racing at JIRR.

Hereford Rowing Club challenged our J15 boys to a 1k race. Our boys rose to the occasion putting their technical coaching into action in the second half of the race and pulling past to take the win. Well done boys.

The rest of the afternoon saw mixed racing of coxed quads, coxless quads and doubles. We managed two races and saw some really fierce and close racing – it was great to watch and a lovely end to our rowing at Dorney.

We had a bit of a logistical challenge to get everyone back to Longridge through the Friday rush hour, in time for the evening meal of fishcakes, baked potatoes and baked beans (with cake and cream for pudding).

Pizza Night was our evening activity and there was a big cheer as the Domino’s delivery driver walked into Longridge.

We held our traditional review of the week with awards for the following:

Star of the Week Girls: Florence Hobson for team leadership, organisation and helping look after the J14 girls.

Star of the Week Boys: Matthew Hill for his leadership in organising equipment, cake, and proactively asking coaches if there was anything that could be done to help.

Rower of the Week Girls: Amelia Fish for the very high standard of technical ability in sculling and sweep.

Rower of the Week Boys: Ben Walker for making every boat he sits in move fast and his technical prowess in sweep rowing.

We also gave some ‘Fun Awards’. Please note that all awards were light-hearted and no feelings were hurt in the awarding of the categories…

The Hollow Legs Award was given to Harry Lord for his capacity to eat everyone under the table.

The Heston Blumenthal Award was given to Amelia Fish for her crazy flavour combinations (jelly and ketchup anyone?)

The ‘Your Mum Thinks You’re An Angel But We Know Better’ Award was a collective award to the J15 boys…say no more!

Karpool Karaoke in the Minibus Award went to the J15 girls for their singing - we liked your Ariana Grande songs!

Swimmer of the Week was awarded to the J14 girls, Maddie Atkinson and Olivia Richardson who stayed dry until Friday when they managed to flip their double.

The Big Blister was awarded to Edward Smith (loose hands Ed).

The Paul Hollywood Award for Services to Baking went to Matthew Hill

Go-Pro Diva, a tub of hair wax, was awarded to Alec Berry for looking good on camera . . . and has the technique to match!

The Big Ego was awarded to Drew Dixon who had flexed his biceps all week and was given a copy of Men’s Health to pick up some tips…


Saturday dawned bright and sunny, and it was time to pack up and go home. The rowers cleaned out their rooms, we packed up and headed home on a glorious Spring day. However, the River Thames was still on red boards and Worcester was no better with the river up above the levels we row at. We made the best of the week. Everyone’s rowing improved and we are raring to go for the regatta season.

Thank you to all the staff who made the rowing camp a success: Mrs Foister, Mr Bowyer, Miss Tuckwood and Mr Kearns, we couldn’t have done it without you.

Thanks also to Marlow Rowing Club who offered use of their gym all week, if we wanted it, and to the staff at Longridge and Dorney Lake, who were so welcoming and helpful for our stay.

Planning has now commenced for Rowing Camp 2019! WATCH THIS SPACE

Films of your rowing

(More films to be uploaded - keep checking back.)

J15 boys versus Hereford Rowing Club


Easter Camp 2017

Figueira da Foz, Portugal

Day One - posted Saturday 8 April

4.30m start for a 7am flight to Lisbon. No one was late! Lisbon looked beautiful in the sunshine with great views of the roman aquaduct as we flew over the city. It was a two hour drive to our hotel and we were greeted with four course lunch of salad starters with pasta in tomato sauce, poached perch, pork escalope and juicy, fresh strawberries. After the obligatory team photo, in our smart new kit, we checked out the beach - miles and miles of sand, with Atlantic rollers - a surfer's dream! 

Dinner was salmon, beef cooked in a mushroom sauce and chocolate mousse for pudding. Lots of clean plates. We had an early night - it had been a very long day - all looking forward to rowing on the lake.

Days Two to Four

Posted 11 April 2017

Everyone has settled into the routine of Camp. Breakfast is 7.30am – porridge (a huge vat of it), cereals, fruit, ham, cheese, and lots of bread rolls. Our wonderful waitress, Anna, always greets us with a huge smile and is gradually teaching us a few words of Portuguese. She is a former rower herself and the hotel understands the need for BIG portions – rowers’ food.

We head to the lake at 8.30am every morning for three hours of rowing and gym work (for some of the rowers). At 12.30pm we are back in the hotel for lunch. Then there is study period for the older rowers while we try and get the younger rowers to take a siesta…(we are really getting into the Portuguese way of life).

At 3.30pm we are back at the lake for another couple of hours of rowing. Then we dine at 7.30pm. The older rowers then study, while the younger ones go to the beach with the wonderful Bosh, or head into town in their groups to go the supermarket to stock up on snacks and souvenirs.

The food is very plentiful. Starters are always a range of simple salads with beans, chickpeas and tuna, and a bowl of pasta with tomato sauce. Main course is always fish with potatoes and vegetables (usually broccoli or cauliflower) and meat with rice. So far, we have been introduced to the delights of octopus, sea bream, perch, hake and skate. Puddings are fruit or yoghurt, chocolate mousse, strawberries and cream, and on one of the days Oreo cookies crushed into cream…what a treat!

As for the rowing…

The lake at Montemor-o-Velho is surrounded by fields of rice which the farmers are currently ploughing – the furrows are covered in European cranes gleaning the upturned soil for insects. The reeds at the side of the lake are full or warblers and there are kites overhead (not sure if they’re the same as the red kites we have in England).

Our J14s have been rowing mainly in quads and are now moving into smaller boats. The J15 boys have been learning sweep. The J15 girls, some of the boys, and the J16-18s have been in quads, singles and doubles. After a couple of days getting used to the rented boats, yesterday was time trial day.

We kicked off with an invitational race between Ashley and Harry, our top double, and two Portuguese boys who won silver at the Portuguese National Championships last year. Harry and Ashley went hard out of the blocks and quickly assumed a lead which, by the end of the 1k race, had lengthened out to 3.5 lengths. A win for GB. It was all very sporting.

Ashley and Harry went on to race four more timed 1k pieces which our top sculler on Camp – Ben Thomson – and our girls’ and boys’ quads raced 4k in total.

Monday 10 April was Mrs Foister’s birthday. The girls on Camp had bought her chocolates and flowers, and a lovely hand-made card depicting the girls rowing and Mrs Foister (in her trademark bobble hat) shouting: “No TALKING in the boat”. (We think the message is getting through!)

We took a break from rowing and took the rowers for a surfing lesson. It was rather rough and only a few of us managed to catch a wave but we had fun and ended the session with ice creams at the Surf Bar.

Everyone was very tired in the evening so we finished off the day with squad meetings, planning for the rest of the camp, and an early night.

Days Five and Six

Posted 13 April 2017

More of the same. We wake up to cool mornings but by the time we are at the lake temperatures have shot up to baking. Tuesday was the hottest day – up to 30 degrees. The seniors took the morning off to get some studying in for their exams, while the younger rowers got some quality time on the lake.

The Lake Dog (a little wire haired terrier) greets us every morning with a stone he’s picked up and wants us to kick for him (he’s not very good at giving it back for another go!). We had our first swimmer of the week. Drew has been coming on leaps and bounds in the single but allowed his attention to wander halfway down the lake and took a dip. His first race is Evesham and we reckon he can do it!

Seniors have been working on distance and technical work. J14s and J15s have been doing a lot of technical work and we are training for sprints and doing a lot of starts to prepare for the regatta season.

We have used the pontoons at the start of the lake to practice lining up on stake boats (tricky on Wednesday as a stiff breeze had blown up).

Tuesday was a real scorcher and we took a dip in the lake to cool off – Darcy won the diving competition for her beautiful technique - Mrs Sullivan was very rusty! The boys enjoyed bombing!

Food in the hotel is still plentiful although we are all looking forward to some home-cooked fare. The last couple of days we have sampled the ‘delights’ of ‘black scabbard’ (we reckon they were big sardines); pig cheeks (slow cooked in a tomatoey sauce); monkfish and macaroni; and ‘steer’ (thin steaks). Quite a lot gets lost in translation from menu to plate but we can always be sure that there are plenty of carbs – rice, pasta, potatoes and bread are served at every meal.

Today (Thursday) is our last day at the lake and we are racing the J14-15s in mixed crews. The seniors will work on distance in the morning (race pacing 2k pieces) and sprints in the afternoon.

Final Day on Camp

Posted: 18 April 2017

Our final day of Camp saw a complete change in the weather. The morning was cool and overcast and perfect for our J14-15 mixed quads racing. We mixed and matched crews for several races on the training lake. Star of the morning was Phoebe Ellis-Tait, who won every race she was in. Jack Beasley was a close second, winning all but one. Seniors spent the morning practicing race pieces on the 2k lake. In the afternoon, four senior boys crammed in another sprint piece session at the lake, while the rest of the rowers spent a last afternoon at the beach.

There has been a bug going around Camp with several rowers and one coach falling ill with sore throat and high temperature. The coaches have been taking turns looking after those who are sick but thankfully no one needed to see the doctor and were recovered in time for the journey home.

Our last evening on Camp was Awards Night and a celebration of Ashley Nock's 18th Birthday. Awards were given to the following rowers:

Star Rower: Ben Thomson (for his brilliant single sculling work)

International Award: Harry Gemmill & Ashley Nock (for their race against the Portuguese Double)

Best All-Rounder: Adam Smith (for rowing in quads and sweep boats)

Best Sweep Rower: Jack Beasley 

Most Improved Girl: Emma Little 

Most Improved Boy: Jon Edgson

Fastest Runner, Girls: Emily Smith

Fastest Runner, Boys: James Larkin

Best Girls' Crew: Mia Fletcher & Phoebe Ellis-Tait

Best Boys' Crew: James Larkin & Malachy Larkin

There were also awards for: Smelliest Room, Most Blisters, Timekeeping, Most Fish Dishes Sampled, and Dodgiest Steering.

We left Portugal with happy memories and much improved rowing! Well Done Everyone.

Easter Camp 2016: Marlow and Dorney

Posted 4 April 2016

Storm Katie blew into the south of England over Easter weekend filling the River Thames with enough water to put it into Red Board status – NO ROWING at Marlow!

Plan B swung into action. After a few phone calls to Marlow Rowing Club and Dorney Lake we were sorted. Instead of rowing at Marlow we would row at Dorney Lake every day and we were offered use of the state-of-the-art rowing gym in Marlow Rowing Club…the camp was ON!

Tuesday 29 March

We made an early start on Tuesday 29 March and after loading up the trailer in under two hours we were off. The flooded river at Longridge, Marlow, our base for the week, was uncomfortably close to the dormitories and had completely covered the boating areas – but we were assured that we’d keep our feet dry in our rooms at least!

First job was to hand out the Rowing Camp 2016 polo shirts - and don't we all look smart?

Tuesday afternoon saw our rowers making use of the amazing gym at Marlow Rowing Club with 20 ergos placed to overlook the beautiful bridge and the river. We worked hard on technique and the senior boys did a killer 3x10’ stepped rate piece as preparation for sprints in the summer. Groups of rowers learnt basic weights lifts with our assistant coaches Rupert Malein and Tom Mitchell, who also led the strength and conditioning sessions.

After supper Mrs Sullivan presented her rowing nutrition talk and emphasised the importance of good food for good rowing!!

Wednesday 30 March

The legendary Longridge breakfast lived up to its name with a huge vat of porridge, bacon and egg baps, a fruit platter, croissants and as much toast as you could eat. Mrs Sullivan was on porridge duty making sure that second helpings were doled out fairly!

After breakfast we drove to Dorney Lake – about 20 minutes away from Longridge. The J15 boys and girls and the J16-18 girls rowed in a mix of boats with the focus on technical work – and lots of filming to show our rowers how to improve. Meanwhile the J16-18 boys seat raced for places in the Henley and Nat Schools quads – notching up 23.5km during the day.

The J15 boys and girls returned to Longridge after lunch for a team-building activity – climbing Jacob’s Ladder. In groups of three the boys and girls had to get their whole team up as far as possible. Several of the rowers were nervous to start with but all conquered their fears with the help of their team – well done everyone.

Calamity struck in the showers – no hot water. With no one from Longridge available to mend the problem our rowers had to endure freezing cold showers after a tough day. They say things like this are character-building…the screams and screeches coming from the boys’ shower rooms could be heard across Longridge! Thankfully there was a hot and very filling lasagne for dinner with treacle sponge and custard for pudding – the mood started to lift!

Mrs Foister presented a talk on sports psychology, after dinner, and we discussed race preparation and techniques to deal with nerves such as visualisation. We hope that everyone is practicing their visualisation at home…

Thursday 31 March

Back at Dorney for the J15 boys and girls and the J16-18 girls, while the senior boys had a well-deserved lie-in after their gruelling seat races. We worked on timing, tapping down, activating core and glutes during the stroke…and lots more. All of the rowers were showing huge improvements in their technique by now and it was good to see different age groups rowing together and learning from each other.

The wind blew up a bit in the afternoon giving some of our crews good experience of turning in tricky conditions. Coaches notched up 20-25km of cycling today and admitted to feeling a little tired!

Dinner was chicken curry followed by apple crumble with lashings of cream and custard.

After dinner we discussed Clean Sport and our rowers were advised on how to check medications and supplements on the UK Anti-Doping websites. A separate document on Clean Sport with the relevant links will be posted here shortly.

Friday 1 April

Our last day of rowing at Dorney. This time it was the turn of the J15s to have a rest in the morning while the J16-18s took the early rowing slot on the lake. There was a second time trial for the J16-18 boys to do a last seat race and to check the PGMs (Percentage Gold Medal times) from Wednesday. The J16-18 girls were out in their doubles doing race pieces and starts. The J16-18s then returned to Longridge for their team activity - Laser Tag...

The J15 girls and boys trained in their quads for forthcoming regattas at Birmingham and Evesham. Conditions were a little tricky with a cross-headwind today but all crews coped well. All week Dorney Lake had been very quiet with only a few clubs training on the water – by Friday afternoon we were the only boats on the 2k lake . . . a great experience for us. There was great excitement among our girls when three of the Oxford Women’s Boat Race-winning team arrived to train in a single and pair for forthcoming Under-23 trials. We picked up lots of tips from their technique.

Sausage and mash, followed by banana sponge with cream and custard, provided plenty of calories for our hard-working rowers.

Friday night saw us celebrating a successful rowing camp with our Awards Evening. Everyone had improved their rowing so it was very difficult to choose our Stars of the Week and our Most Improved Rowers. The coaches all agreed that the following were worthy of these accolades:

J15 Stars: Felix Haynes and Harriet Holyhead

J16 Stars: Alec Berry and Olivia Sparks

J17-18 Stars: Ashley Nock and Aysen Naylor

Most Improved Boy: Joe Murray

Most Improved Girl: Amelia Fish

Most Improved Beginner: Imogen Still

We rounded off the evening with presentations of our fun awards and we returned the confiscated contraband – crisps, sweets, cakes – to those rowers who had ignored the instructions not to bring junk food on camp with them.

Saturday 2 April

The river looked almost rowable and we were hopeful of getting in a row at Marlow. But when we checked the Environment Agency website we were still on Red Boards so Plan B remained in action. We packed up the dormitories then watched the footage of the week’s rowing, learnt some core exercises to be done during the holidays, then did a 30 minute run along the banks of the Thames (top runners were Jordan Barnes and Imogen Still, who not only ran faster than all the girls but came third overall beating most of the boys…).

We enjoyed a picnic lunch in the sunshine at Longridge then headed home to Worcester. Everyone worked quickly and efficiently to get the equipment stowed in less than 40 minutes – what a great team!

Thank you to all our coaches – Mrs Foister, Mrs Sturgess, Rupert Malein, Tom Mitchell – for their hard work in making Easter Camp 2016 Plan B a great experience. And well done to all our rowers who remained cheerful and worked very hard despite the camp not being quite as we planned! In 2017 we are heading to Portugal for our Easter Camp – full details will be revealed on 10 May at our talk to rowers and parents (check the school calendar for details).

Mrs J. Sullivan

Head of Rowing

Mean and moody at Dorney Lake!

Seat racing at Dorney Lake