Third year Natsci and New Zealander Sonia Bracegirdle trialled for her first time last year, and made it straight into the winning Blue Boat. She kept rowing in exam term, and when receiving her results found out that she had the best overall result of the 100+ chemists in her year.
What made you decide to trial for CUWBC?
I noviced at Caius College in my first year, and decided then that I would like to challenge myself further. I did start trialling at the start of my second year, but had to abandon that attempt because I had too many lectures scheduled on Saturday morning. I took part in the CUWBC Development Squad at the end of that year, and was finally able to trial this year. I consider myself very lucky to have made the Blue Boat straight away.
How did rowing affect your studies?
Many people – mostly supervisors – warned me that rowing would affect my studies for the worse. To be honest, I have noted quite the opposite. Rowing has helped me manage my time much better. I actually believe that I have done more work than the previous years because I valued the time I had available more, and thus used it better. I am really pleased with my result – I had not expected it at all, and having won my Boatrace on top of that has made this a fantastic year.
What advice would you give aspiring triallists who are worried about combining rowing and a degree?
I think the most important thing is to believe that it can be done. Only people who have never rowed say that it is impossible to combine rowing and a degree. But when you talk to rowers – the ones who actually tried – they will advise you quite differently. I am not saying that it is easy: you must be prepared to work when you are more tired than you might otherwise be, and it is very important to keep on top of things; it is difficult to pull an all-nighter when you train twice a day. But, as I said, rowing has actually helped me be more disciplined and organised. What I also found very helpful is spending a lot of time around other people who are equally motivated about both rowing and their degree, and who offer a very supportive and understanding environment. I have found that very stimulating, and that is something some non-rowers overlook.
So, you have your First, your boatrace win and your blue. Are your trialling again?
Of course! Last year was a fantastic year, and I would love to have the opportunity to experience that again.