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  • Writer's pictureCity Of Sheffield

2020: The Year in Review

Updated: Mar 13, 2021

A year with so much promise! 2020 started off really well for City of Sheffield Rowing Club.

Both the women's and men's squads appeared to be producing some of their fastest 8+'s in recent years for competing at WHORR and HORR respectively, the women having asserted their dominance at the South Yorkshire Head with a win over all the other 8's. The women's double of Cat and Bridie (aka Bat Boat) returned to their winning ways, sights firmly set on improving upon their quarterfinal appearance at Henley Women's in 2019. Simon Coyne won his first solo spot since moving from sweep rowing to single sculling at the end of 2019, as did the club novices in a mixed 8+ at Lincoln.

However, the year that was supposed to be a string of top club performance with crews competing at both Henley Royal and Women's Henley was not to be after the global pandemic due to the outbreak of Corona Virus unfolded.

Forged of strong stuff up North, when the club closed its doors on March 17th, 2020, its members were determined to show that we are far more than a couple of sheds full of boats, but in fact are a community of athletes there to support each other in their times of need.

With that in mind, the club took part in various challenges and training goals that helped bring everyone further together, but also allowed individuals to achieve, knowing that their community was behind them.

Olwyn Paxman (officially known as Olly) provided a quiz question of the day, ranging from trivia to wordplay, as well as a whole host of guess that movie from the picture, each one incorporating a Sheffield City AIO. Olly went on to create her own series of short films providing a new way of looking at coaching the rowing stroke.

Simon Coyne was keen that everyone should keep getting the miles in during the first lockdown. With that, he arranged an Around the World Challenge were everyone within the club could submit miles as he tracked the progress in a route that would start up at Damflask Reservoir, Sheffield and finish in Northern Australia. Club members were able to submit miles on the erg, bike (moving or static), running and walking with adjustment factors made to level up members efforts. Weekly reports were made available to all the members who participated in the form of sightseeing opportunities along the way. These reports were masterfully illustrated by Meri Middleton.

A whole host of members have been ensuring that group training can commence even through lockdowns. CSRC Zoom Workouts have been a major part of the weekly training calendar and continue to be so into 2021.

Rob Pilling organised a virtual regatta, and between utilising a self made age-weight adjuster, and the wonders of technology, levelled the playing field across all the squads to provide a multi-lane event hosting a thrilling 5k run, 1k singles and doubles races, a 333m singles relay, and a gritty plank knock-out to top off proceedings.

Club member Mandy Calvert took silver in the BRIC Lightweight Women's 55-59 2000m race, sandwiched between Denmark's Marianne Becker and Italy's Claudia Giocomazzi! This was off the back of winning both her events (2000m and 500m) in the first ever British Rowing Virtual Championships in the summer.

Some club members took their workouts to another level in order to help give back to the community at large. Women's squad member, Alex Wright, ran 100K and smashed her £200 fundraising target for the S2 Food Bank, and another women's squad member cycled for 24hrs on a static bike set up in her room to raise just less than £1,500 for the Stephen Lawrence foundation, 33% more than her target.

2020's AGM ended up having one of the biggest attendances in recent years due to the accessibility of having it in June. This was all co-ordinated by the combined efforts of Meri Middleton and Liz Brown, which turned it into a big success. This will leave the committee with food for thought on how to run future AGM's to keep them inclusive for all members.

Outside of the lockdowns, the club has done everything it can to support rowing at Damflask Reservoir. The club has seen more single sculls on the water than it has for many years and hopefully members will be able to use their newly acquired/refined skills in crew boats whenever rowing returns to normal. Crew bubbles have also been formed allowing members to enjoy the more social aspect of the club with a limited group of friends. In 2020, there was only one case of COVID contracted by a club member that had rowed at the club, but thanks to rigorous planning of the Return to Row Group and all members willingness to action these there was no spread of the virus from this isolated case.

Although we didn't attend many races this year, Vicky McDougall and Cat Webb did a great job of putting together the annual club calendar, showing off what we did do in the early part of the season as well some of the success from the recent past. However, most importantly, it was designed to remind us of the community that we have formed around the sport with one month dedicated to all the pets of CSRC members and the back cover showing all those who had special birthdays this year. Between them, Vicky and Cat made sure all who had ordered a calendar for 2021 had one before we rolled into January. Hopefully we will be filling them with races to attend in the not-so-distant future.

While it's important to reflect on the achievements that the club had made in the past year, City of Sheffield Rowing Club is still very much set of development for the future. As rowing may be limited at the dam, the management committee are steering the club towards its biggest project yet, which will involve improving all the facilities at the club, allowing it to cater for a larger and more broad range of people over the next couple of decades. To read more about it and provide support, click here.

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