Women's Masters Rowing - A Personal Perspective

Posted on: 21st April, 2017 by Oar Sport

When asked to write a blog about my experience of Womens Masters rowing… I had to really think what it was about for me now and figure out why do I still row?

Very good question…why?

What is this rowing thing that keeps drawing me back? I could list the usual things I associate most with this addictive sport but notice this list has modified to have more balance and choice than in previous years. Success might have been an early motivation when I started to row but my interpretation of ‘success’ has always been much more than winning or losing a race. Fitness and being outdoors are still top of the list whereas early morning outings are requested to be slightly later and my definition of ‘early’ is debatable. Outings are usually followed by a seat by the fire in the bar cradling a hot cup of tea…and on a lucky day homemade nibbles! Blisters still hurt, the rain still feels wet and getting to front stops is an achievement to celebrate in itself.  

When I moved to Ireland for a few years I could have tried a new sport but couldn’t find one that matched the layers of experiences rowing offered. A new country, a new set of like-minded friends and many new rivers to experience in freezing cold conditions but far more importantly, new memories to be made.

On return back to the UK I was swept back into senior racing for a season but discovered this wasn’t quite what I wanted anymore. Time seemed to be more precious, with more responsibilities I felt protective over how I wanted to spend my time. A decision to only do Masters rowing seemed to bring a balance and an approach to training that was based on a heathy lifestyle and the opportunity to include other activities I hadn’t had the chance to try in a former schedule driven by the commitment of rowing / racing / training.



Leaving senior rowing didn’t mean I left the rowing scene I simply adjusted my expectations…very difficult to go from wanting to be your best ‘rowing’ self where you and anyone close to you schedules births, deaths and marriages around your training and racing regime – and that’s only for a club rower! Manage expectations? How do you even start doing that…? I switched my erg monitor to show Watts or Calories on the screen so you can’t compare or be compared….it was time to listen more to what I wanted to do, to discover what I wanted my rowing experience to be now. And if not racing then what?

My masters rowing journey is still evolving as I try to strike a balance. What I have found so far is I enjoy time on the water so much more when I do get out. I see more of what’s there, I notice people – rather than getting used to the same faces and I have conversations with people instead of arriving just in time for training and rush out because I’m so tired I just want to get home to eat, sleep and get ready for the next training session.

What springs to mind is a recurring theme…the people I have met along the way and I hope to continue to meet. Rowing has introduced me to a fantastic network of individuals…(who thankfully are not all like-minded!). With its’ own set of opportunities and barriers rowing is a sport in which you can grow if you just turn up and give it a go.

- Berni