OULRC Training Camp in Sicily
After almost a full week off from training at Christmas, the squad’s arrival at the airport was greeted by more presents in the form of new kit. The feeling of walking around wearing the word “OXFORD” on your back never gets old. The morning after arriving meant the first early-morning weigh-in after Christmas, which was a bit of a shock for some, and breakfast had to be kept lighter than usual. However this was more than made up for by the picturesque Sicilian lake which was within walking distance of the hotel. Using boats borrowed from a local club the squad were able to train in two VIIIs every day, on a stretch of water that allowed much more productive side-by-side work in training than could be managed on the river at Wallingford. The conditions were also a complete change from what everyone was used to in winter – glorious sunshine meant that the essential all-in-one tan lines began to bloom. Aside from some breezy conditions, there was perfect rowing weather for most of the week.
Training consisted of 2-3 outings per day, interspersed with large amounts of food from the hotel, and occasional games of football with the local children, who showed that most of the squad were right to pick rowing and not football as their sport of choice. Free-time in between sessions was spent in a combination of sleeping, trying to decipher Italian TV, working and tea-bagging the growing number of blisters on people’s hands. On New Year’s Eve everyone headed into nearby Palermo to impress the Italians with their karaoke skills.
On the water vast improvements were made, finding out combinations that worked in various boats and getting the time on the water which had been so hard to come by in the poor conditions back in England. It also focused everybody well for the next few months of training, as the build-up to the Boat Race began in earnest. It was a shock to return to sub-zero temperatures in England, but the time we spent on camp was invaluable for both the squad’s rowing and team bonding.