Hi! I’m Alex and I’m a fourth year MMLer. I’ll be captaining the Men’s and NB squad for the 2022-23 academic year.
I joined the club in 2019 as a fresher having never rowed before and immediately fell in love with both the sport and the club. That first Michaelmas term culminated in Novice Fairbairn’s where I caught my first (and to date only) crab in a race over the start line. In Lent term, my first as a senior rower, I rowed in M2, and while the results in that term’s Bumps could have been better, I was completely hooked and excited to move into my first May Bumps with Downing.
Unfortunately, COVID meant that the whole term was cancelled and run remotely, but through training spreadsheets and constant Zoom use the club got through and training continued through Easter term and summer.
As we headed into the 2020/21 year, when I was one of the club’s four Lower Boats Captains, tight restrictions stayed in place in Michaelmas, limiting us mostly to land and small boats sessions, and then Lent term was unfortunately cancelled due to another national lockdown.
In Easter term of 2021 we (and rowing) finally returned to Cambridge, and Downing had a strong start with our Blues rowers Calum Sullivan in the blue boat, and Cameron Spiers and Ollie Boyne in Goldie taking part in the Cambridge domination of all the Boat Races that year. After strong showings in the term’s small boats races and regattas, we joined the rest of Cambridge in disappointment at CUCBC’s announcement that May Bumps would be cancelled and replaced with the June Eights Regatta.
We were one of only two colleges which fielded three men’s crews for the Regatta, and they all put in extremely strong showings. M1 had a fantastic week of rowing, losing only to eventual winners Magdalene, while M2, where I rowed in 7 seat, beat Pembroke M3 and Christ’s M2, and lost only narrowly to Queen’s M2 and Girton M1. M3 had a tough draw including Emmanuel M1 and Peterhouse M1 but put in a fantastic showing.
The 2021-22 year began with me heading off on my MML Year Abroad and keeping up with training remotely while I was away over Michaelmas. In Lent however, yet more COVID disruption meant that I was in Cambridge for the term and ready to get back on the river with M1 for Cambridge’s first Bumps races in two years. M2 did well with three solid row-overs in the chaotic third division, before bumping Queen’s M2 on the final day to take second place in that division. Meanwhile, M1 chased First and Third hard, getting overlap on the first two days but failing to take the bump, before they finally fell on day three to a huge charge down Long Reach led by stroke seat Friedrich. M1 then pulled hard to a strong row-over on the final day to take fourth on the river in a brilliant week of Bumps.
After spending Easter term and most of summer abroad I’m now back to training, and hugely excited to get on with planning for Michaelmas term. The club has a good foundation to build from this year and I’m looking forward to leading that for the Men’s and NB squad, both on the Cam in the Bumps and off it at HoRR and other races in regatta season. Enjoy the rest of summer, and I’ll see you in Michaelmas to kick off the season!
– Alex Pennington, Men’s + NB Captain 2022/23