> A look at what it’s like to be in one of the most long standing and successful teams at UWE.

Rowing is one of the country’s most competitive sports, with over 55,000 people in the UK alone participating in rowing at least once a week.

Within the UK there is a rowing event or activity that takes place every week, with more than 300 events and activities taking place each year. The sport of rowing caters for all ages and abilities, and there are over 520 British rowing clubs in the UK and at the same time offering many different types of rowing.

At UWE the boat club competes in many different boat classes at numerous events throughout the country, including; Women’s Henley Royal Regatta, the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta and the National Championships of Great Britain. Not forgetting all the BUCS events the club attends and competes at.

UWE Boat Club (UWEBC) is one of the top performing clubs within the university. They consistently perform at every event they attend. With an increase in members this year, the club can only go on and achieve more. The club has been through many changes since it was established in 1985 with the most recent change being the implementation of a new coaching structure.

This academic year saw over 300 new recruits to the club that had never been in a boat or lifted an oar before in their lives. With their first competition soon approaching they are being hard hit into training to enable them to perform at their best. The first race in which novice rowers participate at UWEBC is the Bristol University Boat Club Head Race, where all universities are invited to take part in a gruelling 3.2km for senior rowers and 1.6km for all novice rowers. This race will give our novices the chance to compete with their equivalents from across the county and see how they compare on the water.

Within UWEBC there are four separate squads: Men’s senior squad, Women’s senior squad, Men’s novice squad and Women’s novice squad. All senior squads train on the water together with land based training (weights and rowing machine training) done in smaller mixed groups. Novices complete there water based training separately to start with and then intermix with the seniors as they develop. Senior athletes train every day bar Thursday’s, to keep them on top form throughout the year. With the sport of rowing you need to have not only a good base fitness level but also a good aerobic capacity. This is why training is continuous throughout the year focusing on base level fitness in the winter and moving to aerobic fitness in the spring. The reason for this is that rowing competes in two very different types of event. Through the majority of autumn, winter and spring rowers compete in what is called a ‘Head Race’. This is a long distance time trial where all crews are set off one after the other competing for the best time possible. Results in your category are not known until the end of the event. These are usually over a set distance anything from 3km-6km+. Unfortunately all crews more often than not have to row that distance to get to the start line before the race and then race the course back down.

Moving into summer rowing, the competitions become slightly different. They are set for a shorter distance, anything from 250m-2km. These races are called regattas, where aerobic and anaerobic capacity is crucial. The standard distance for summer regattas is 2000m. For this athletes will take a round 32+ strokes per minute for the whole race lasting anything from 6 to 8 minutes+. It’s a gruelling and torturous race distance that tests the limits of all athletes involved. These are normally held on multi-lane courses with up to 8 lanes of crews racing side by side.

The club is becoming very popular in the university, with more members joining each year. All squads are going on to compete at higher levels and training harder all the time. The squads are continuously improving year on year. Speaking exclusively to the Western Eye, women’s captain Kim Headley said: ‘The women’s squad is looking a lot stronger this year and with all the hard training, we are looking forward to some exciting results at upcoming races.’ The club hopes to continue its growth in the future and involve more students in what is becoming one of the highest performing clubs at UWE.

Hannah Lawton