Gemma at St John’s College & twin Catherine at Caius both studying Natural Science and rowing with CUWBC
If you asked us 7 years ago where we would see ourselves today, it certainly would not have included rowing!
Aged around 13, we found ourselves members of numerous sport and music clubs, swimming, netball, brass quintet and other bands. However, we keenly accepted an opportunity to attend six trial rowing sessions at our school, Lady Eleanor Holles. Caught by the rowing bug, the rest is history!
Our time rowing at ‘LEH’ was fantastic, being part of a large squad, pushing each other to do their best every day. We spent time rowing in bigger boats, and over the years were lucky enough to race all over the country at a variety of different events. In 2016, we were selected to compete in the J16 Great Britain v France regatta in Valenciennes in an eight. This was exciting opportunity to taste international competition. We were thrilled to come away with a win.
Over the next two years, we spent time getting to grips with smaller boats, refining our skills, as well as the eight. As identical twins our similar rowing styles make us suited to the pair. We have achieved wins at the Junior British Rowing Championships, Pairs Head and the Home International Regatta in 2017 and 2018, representing England. We also reached the semi-finals of the senior Championship Pairs category at Henley Women’s Regatta. In the Hambleden Pairs Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta we had an unforgettable experience racing on the Saturday. This was despite Catherine enduring a hospital stay during the week with a bad case of food poisoning!
Arriving at Cambridge as Freshers
When we travelled to Cambridge in September 2018 for pre-season training we were very nervous. Fortunately we had each other but we had no idea where anything was or what would be expected. On arrival we were immediately welcomed. We found ourselves surrounded by a group of supportive team mates. Being a part of the Cambridge rowing team has really helped our transition from school to university. It has been much easier than we had ever anticipated.
Of course, the early morning training took a bit of getting used to! On the first water session Catherine managed to oversleep and miss the bus to Ely! Panicked, she had to navigate her way to the station and thankfully, managed to make it just in time for the outing.
The challenge of balancing a full schedule of lectures, practical classes and supervisions (we are studying Biological Natural Sciences) with rowing is not always easy. But we have managed to juggle both relatively well (so far!). We find that rowing is extremely rewarding as we to strive to improve every session, in the gym and on the water. Perfecting technique and going fast in boats is an indescribable feeling, and worth all the hours spent training every week. Arriving, straight from rowing in Ely, ready to study at our 9am lectures when others have only just got up, is strangely satisfying.
Although this is only our second term at Cambridge, we feel truly part of the squad. We are well supported by the whole team and we look forward to the future studying hard and rowing fast!