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Rowing: Is it worth it?

Should you join the cult?

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As a nervous fresher last term, eager for the full “Cambridge experience”, I signed up for rowing. But was it REALLY worth it?


Nobody can deny that rowing is a community, and this has been the best aspect for me. Since the first couple of weeks last term, anxiously trying to figure out which friendships would stick, I have realised that the friends I made through rowing have been there for me the most. I’m friends with grads who have lives (real ones! Outside of Cambridge!) as well as other freshers and I love that. The two to my bow will never be forgotten ?

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Yes, she wrote me a Rowbridge. Yes, we're both a bit sad.


Getting up at 6am in the sunshine is hard enough; during Lent term, getting up in the cold, wintery weather has been tough. Getting in from a night out at three to then have to get up three hours later is a miserable experience ?. Even worse in Lent has been getting up to a red flag and no rowing – damn you CUCBC.


Prior to arriving in Cambridge, I was not known for my sporting ability. However, since starting rowing my cardiac fitness has improved dramatically. Even better, I now have what has been described as a “good bum” by my friends at home, which in my eyes is a perfectly legitimate reason to continue! ?


The stereotype is true; if you row 99 per cent of your chat becomes about rowing. I can’t count the number of times the eye rolls and groaning has begun at pres when the question of “How was your outing this morning” turns into a 30-minute conversation about erg scores.


BCD (boat club dinner for those uninitiated) was one of the highlights of Michaelmas for me, as was the animal themed swap held in the fine dining establishment that is Curry King. The free alcohol, combined with a group of people who have become very close very quickly, is always going to lead to an interesting evening.

Mood when Cindies is 90 per cent boaties


Every boat club has a notorious shark. If you are reading this and no one springs to mind, it’s you. You are the shark.


There is no better feeling than knowing you tried your hardest for your friends and it paying off. The exhaustion coupled with the endorphins from pushing yourself to the limit is amazing and when it results in a win it's all worth it.

Fancy dress themed race? Sign me up


The nature of rowing is such that it requires a river, which no colleges have on site. Therefore the cycle to the boathouse must be undertaken. Whilst ok if at Jesus, like me (it’s a five minute ride I’m 100 per cent flexing on you) if at a far-out college like Girton it’s three miles, whilst even from Newnham it takes a while (12 minutes in Cambridge time is basically an hour). Is rowing really worth it when you've got to do even MORE exercise just to get somewhere that's suitably wet enough to do it?


As with any extra-curricular activity in any way related to Cambridge, with rowing there comes stash. However, I would like to argue that rowing stash is an elevated form of stash – no other college sport has leggings that vary in design from college to college. Boat club stash is the ultimate stash, even if a singlet is the singular most unflattering clothing item in existence.

Look! Matching tops! (we have no cool leggings at Jesus, step your game up JCBC)

There is one more pro than con on this list because I feel the pros do outweigh the cons. There is no better feeling than being out on the river and moving in sync with seven friends. Despite the early mornings and the awful ergs, I wouldn’t change it for the world (except maybe the cold grey Cambridge weather).