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Rowing and finding my place in the fun

Date Released: Mon, 13 May 2013 14:00 +0200

THIS is my last year at Rhodes and I realised over the past three years I have been so preoccupied with "beneficial" extracurricular activities, I forgot along the way that societies can be joined for fun.

So I took the plunge - literally - and signed up for my first sport society. Little did I anticipate it would dictate my life and push me to the brink of physical and mental exhaustion.

"Welcome to Rhodes University Rowing Club!" wrote my Captain after our first day as novices - a.k.a. newbie rowers - on Settlers' Dam. "Rowing is a fantastic yet very challenging sport, but one that I can guarantee will bring you immense pride and reward if you are prepared to give it your time and commitment."

And it was time and commitment it took from me; plus my sweat and tears - without any signs of mercy.

Two months into joining, and only seven or so sessions on the water, I found myself and my fellow novices on a minibus hooked up to a trailer with a tower of boats, on our way to SA Champs in Pretoria last weekend.

Eighteen hours of painstakingly slow driving, two boats taken out by the bus driver and three Wimpy meals later, we were finally in Pretoria staying in Kamp Reynard.

Yes, Kamp with a K'. What had I gotten myself into?

It was Sunday morning - D-Day. We stared out into the still, lifeless green sludge of Roodeplaat dam from the confines of our trusty cox Four boat, Acheron Slowly creeping forward to the start line we parted our very own red sea of algae. "Square your blades, balance," commanded our cox.

We were dead still. Silence rang in our ears. There was slow heavy synchronised breathing. A bead of sweat trickled down my brow. I could hear the butterflies fluttering furiously in my belly.

"Attention all crews."


The miniature person in the front of the boat erupted into screams and fits of fury. "ONE, TWO, THREE, Push it girls". Four boats emerged out of the splashes of green and began to gain momentum.

After 200m, there was no time to look to my right or to my left, I had no idea where we were, if we would even finish. All I focused on was my blade hitting the water at the same time as my teammates and our handle heights were perfectly balanced. No chance I was going to fall into this water - been there, got that wet T-shirt.

It's 500m down. My coach's voice replayed in my head, "Don't rush the slide, girls, focus on your technique."

Then 700m down. Two boats were now trailing behind us with little chance of catching up.

All of a sudden the 250m mark screamed at us, "Go for home girls! G0000!"

The five of us exploded in a frenzy of exhausted cheering, thrusting our fists into the air with a triumphant "Yes!" with smiles plastered across our now green faces.

We had done it. Second place in our first ever competition. Two months of torturous trials, carbo-loading, 5.30am training sessions and lobster-red sunburns from countless hours of exposure to the scorching sun.

It had all built up to this moment.

Our captain signed off her first email to us with: "Do one thing every day that scares you - Eleanor Roosevelt." Rowing down - bring it on world!

By Lauren Flynn

Source: Grocott’s Mail