By Patrick Moroney
Rowing at Hampton is an amazing experience; as much as you can enjoy the physical agony involved. As the first year of rowing at Hampton for all of us there has been significant improvement and progress throughout the season. As a squad we have gone from taking our first rowing strokes, to winning national medals and to simply experiencing the joy of racing.
The season has been great for the whole squad. Second place at the Junior sculling Head and Junior Sculling Regatta (both national events) for the 1st octo (8x+) and a bronze medal at National Schools Regatta, the biggest regatta solely for junior rowing in the country. Highlights included a win in the 2nd 8x+ at the Junior Sculling Head and a 1st and 2nd place finish in the Hampton Big Boats Head the school hosts every year.
As well as being competitive right at the top of the squad, all levels have taken part in multiple races with many crews going to BASHER and BASHER II (BASHER is an acronym for the six big rowing schools in the country: Bedford, Abingdon, St Paul’s, Hampton, Eton, Radley), Hampton head, a private match against St Georges at the start of the year and Star regatta, all with Kingston regatta still to come.
What can be said about rowing at Hampton is that there is a great unity: we live and die as a squad. It’s the ability when racing, when every muscle in your body is screaming to stop, to keep on going, if not for you but the other boys in the boat (not forgetting though how important the cox is in drowning out that voice). The team spirit from rowing is therefore stronger than any other sport, crews are so tightly knit yet the 1st 8x+ for example has had 16 different rowers and coxes in it throughout the year (excluding a J16 who kindly coxed the 1st 8x+ for Teddington head).
Even despite multiple changes in crews there is still this great sense of unity. This transition from a new rower to National Schools medallist has been enormously helped by this unity. There is that constant competitive drive among members of the squad to get a better ergo score or get your blades in at the right time together at the catch every stroke. The desire to improve yourself and do better than you did: last time, a week ago, the last race, the last term, the start of the year is all important.
Frustratingly physical improvement does not work in a straight line but over the course of the year, together as a squad, we have improved. We have gone from rowing half of the boat at a time square blades, to rowing full crew with feathering, to being able to slowly raise the rate cap until we are rowing stronger and neater than we were before. Learning from the team of coaching staff what to do and how to do it, we have ended the season as a squad with four national medals.