I have never been a particularly sporty person. Actually, I’m not sporty at all. I managed – through taking an extra class in O level statistics (which I failed) and woefully inadequate safeguarding policies in the 1980s – to avoid games completely at my high school for two years. Rowing was not an option at my ‘bog standard comprehensive’ and I wasn’t really interested in healthy hobbies whilst at university. I had my first taste of rowing whilst working in a temporary admin role at a solicitors in Norwich; they had access to a wonderful, sturdy old four which was kept at what was then the Norwich Union Boathouse off the Yarmouth Road. I turned up, they gave me an oar and off we went. And, much to my great surprise, I could sort of do it. A few years later, having moved to Kingston-upon-Thames to start my teaching career, I saw a learn to row course advertised. I needed something other than lesson preparation, parents’ evenings, marking and worrying about pupils in my life. I became hooked and rowed in a coxed four, an eight and on a few occasions, a quad. Sweep rowing was definitely my thing in those days.
On returning to Norwich, the same desire to get out on the water caught up with me again. I signed up to a ‘get back into’ course at Broadland Rowing Club and that was that. Hooked all over again. Rowing is a wonderful sport for body and soul. Spotting the swan sitting patiently on her nest, the kingfisher zipping along the shoreline, the heron crouched on one leg watching its lunch, the hawk hovering overhead, the bemused head of a seal popping up out of the water – all of these earn me jealous looks from friends and colleagues back on land. Apart, that is, from the many friends I have met and made through rowing and have shared these experiences with. When you find yourself in that perfect rhythm together, the perfect ‘click’ of everyone moving together, that’s pretty special. So, too, are the times spent sat on the water sharing anecdotes and stories and laughs. These days, I’m very much a recreational rower – I was always a somewhat reluctant racing one even in my ‘heyday’. I’m still not really a particularly sporty person. Just someone who loves rowing.