Freya Keto

Freya Keto on winning and the positive impact of rowing


Freya is pictured above (centre) with the Women’s Blue Boat crew after winning the 2023 Gemini Boat Race on 26 March. Early indicators were for a successful race, as President Caoimhe Dempsey won the toss, choosing Surrey. Cambridge crossed the line four and a half lengths clear as exultant victors for the sixth consecutive time in the Women’s Boat Race.

Freya says:

“It was a wonderful day all around last Sunday. To win alongside the 8 people in my boat, the coaching staff, and the entire CUBC squad was hugely special. The atmosphere was incredible and the culmination of months of hard work. Aside from the result, it was special to put our emotional and physical energy to the test in such a unique setting and every crew member took full advantage of the opportunity that the day provided.”

Re-watch HERE

Freya is at St Edmund’s College, currently doing an MPhil in African Studies in the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS). She is looking at the role of amnesty in South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation ‘Project’ and hoping to improve her understanding of the long-standing impacts of European colonialism. During her undergraduate years at Brown University, she was a CRCA Scholar Athlete in 2020, 2021, and 2022. She was also Academic All-Ivy in 2021 and a CRCA First Team All-American in 2021.

Sports teaches you resilience

With such an incredible story to tell already, it’s not difficult to believe that Freya finds the time and energy for her academic work as well as being able to commit to the training required for the women’s squad at CUBC. And that’s because rather than hindering her academic progress, she finds that rowing has many positive impacts.

Freya says:

“Rowing has helped me manage my schedule efficiently. I know I have a smaller time range in which to complete my studies which means I often have to get my work done ahead of schedule. Sport teaches you resilience and to get back up when it seems all hope is lost. It takes discipline and faith to keep pushing on the difficult days which are really useful skills in life outside of sport.” 

Learning life skills from rowing

She says that it’s essential to balance rowing and academics through careful planning, meal preparation, and a diligent sleep schedule – also excellent life skills to have learnt. And it’s not just life skills that Freya has benefitted from – she has found many benefits in being part of the rowing scene at Cambridge, the community at CUBC, and the ‘wonderful array of committed and unique individuals’ that you can meet there. 

She says:

“It is great to be part of a community and university in which rowing is such a core part of the cultural scene. It is unlike anything in the U.S. The community at CUBC has been a hugely supportive one, recognising the importance of both athletics and academics. It’s long hours and hard work but I keep rowing with the continued belief that I can keep improving and contributing to the group around me.”

Read the 2023 Gemini Boat Race report here.