Hi, I’m Anna, a third-year medical student, and I am honoured to be taking on the role of Captain of Boats for DCBC. I take over from Stephen, who did an exceptional job of expanding and strengthening the club last year, and I hope to continue this work over the 2019/20 season.
I have just spent a year as a Lower Boats’ Captain, where, along with the other LBCs, I organised the recruitment and coaching of all novice rowers, from freshers through to PhD students. It was so exciting being able to share my passion for the sport, which I myself had only started in my first year at Downing. Watching the novices improve so much over Michaelmas term (even becoming some of the most successful novice crews on the river) and knowing I had contributed to this was so rewarding.
My relationship with the newest members of the club was further strengthened when I joined W2 in Lent term last year. Of the 9 people in the crew, 7 had only learnt to row in the previous term so Ruth (our excellent cox) and myself had to pass on our own experiences of racing in a senior crew. For me, this term of rowing emphasised one of the most special aspects of being part of the boat club – the strong feeling of team spirit and camaraderie. Having met just months before, we bonded well as a crew and every session was so much fun, making all of the early mornings and tough erg sessions worth it. This culminated in us winning Blades (bumping every day) in Lent Bumps at the end of the term which was an unbelievable feeling.
Then, in Easter term, I returned to W1 for my first ever Bumps campaign in a first boat. This showed me a different side to rowing as there was more pressure to perform, knowing we were against such tough competition. And yet the thing I love most about rowing was still present – the deep level of friendship and support you develop with your crew. We put so much effort into our training that term and came back from outings feeling proud of how hard we had worked. Unfortunately, Bumps was not as successful as we had hoped – being bumped twice over the four days, which was disappointing. And yet I found it hard to be truly disappointed – despite the result, I made friends for life in that boat and simply knowing we were competing against the top college crews is quite special.
However, rowing for Downing is not just about the individual boats, but about the club as a whole. There is such a sense of family amongst both our current members and our generous alumni, many of whom return regularly to coach and support our squads. In May Bumps last year, we entered the most Downing boats that we have in a long time – the first Mays W3 since 2009 and the first Mays M4 since 2013. Seeing so many people getting involved at all levels was inspiring – rowing really is for everyone!
So, on to the year ahead. I am keen to maintain the large squad we built up last year and hopefully expand it further with lots of new members. With our world-class coaching and excellent facilities, I believe we have the potential to succeed at all levels of rowing and I want to help everyone feel they have achieved what I know we are all capable of by this time next year.
Feroces ad mortem,
Anna Thomas – Captain of Boats 2019/20