9 November 2017

During the half term the senior squad and the J16s left the mild weather of Abingdon and set off to sunny idyllic lake in Banyoles in Spain for a week’s training camp. The lake itself is almost exactly 2k long and straight. This was good for us as a squad because we could do some longer uninterrupted rowing, whereas back at home there isn’t a straight 2k stretch. Another key part of the camp was team building. As a senior squad we had only rowed together for a half term and when we did, it would only be for one or two hour session. So spending a week rowing and living together, we really got to know everything about each other and maybe some things we didn’t want to know… We went out with our coaches, Mr Earnshaw, Mr Copus and Nick Strange and our boatman, Jonny Garrow.

On the first morning at Banyoles the mist had descended from the surrounding mountains and it was like a scene from a David Attenborough documentary. After the mist cleared we could finally set out onto the lake. The water itself was calm and flat and that meant there was nothing that could hinder us from getting a good, well working boat. The aim of the camp, and also for rowing in general, was to get in a boat and make it go faster. For us, as a squad, it was to really develop our small boat skills. At the beginning of the week we were put into pairs and then, through the week, we worked in those pairs. Later on in the camp we did some harder work in the same boats to see how we had progressed over the camp. This added a bit of friendly competition to the squad. We spent a lot of time in singles on this camp. The singles are very helpful technically because you get instant feedback on what you are doing because if something is going wrong it is as a direct consequence of what you are doing and your responsibility to correct it. Whereas in larger boats sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint exact details of technique.

The camp was also a coxless camp, so all the boats we were in had to be steered by one of the boys. This may sound simple – you steer the boat in a straight line down the course. However, for some it was not that simple and we may have seen more of the lake than was intended and there were a few squeaky moments where some may have come a hairs breadth from altogether beaching the boat on the bank. Which on its own is bad enough, but having to explain how you broke one of Jonny’s boats is not a conversation anyone ever wants to have…

On top of all of this we also had an omnium team challenge going on in mixed year group teams. One of the events which was particularly memorable was the running relay around the lake. It would be no understatement to say that our running ability was definitely mixed and many did admit after that one reason they had chosen rowing was because it is a sitting down sport.

On top of the rowing we also spent a lot of time off the water and in the town itself. Banyoles as a town is amazing. It has culture and dancing every night in the town square, beautiful scenes across the lake and amazing ancient buildings. The town meeting which took place every evening to discuss Catalonian Independence was an interesting insight into the challenges facing Spain at the moment. But most importantly there was copious amounts of food at every point in the town. This meant that most nights we would have two meals. Firstly, at the hostel and then from a smorgasbord of other options scattered across the town.

In all the camp was an amazing one and something that I’m sure will be remembered for a long time by all the boys. It was also a camp where we found we made a lot of progress in the boats, and we also got to know each other as a squad.

Written by Henry Muller

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