Training as part of a crew can have its ups and downs. Usually, being ‘crew’ is a college thing. College crews are populated with armies of tall fit twenty year olds, with bouncy pony tails, clear skin and perky boobs who get to train twice a day if they wish.
A few PBM members are on a novice crew that rows out of Castleconnell on a stretch of the Shannon between Clare, Tipperary and Limerick. At regattas, we compete against those college crews, but we’re also trying to hold down jobs, mind children, pay babysitters and somehow squeeze in the 6am sessions that make the difference between winning and losing.
Funnily enough though, it’s not age, or fitness that gives a crew the edge. There’s a special something – a kind of magic that comes when everyone in the boat switches how they think. It’s the difference between ‘I want us to win’ and ‘We want to win’. The sense of self is lost, and you care more about the crew as a whole than you do for yourself. And until you feel it, you can’t describe it. But when it’s there, that’s the magic that makes you think that even with old oars, in a cracked boat, with your cesarean scars and wobbly baby tummy and tired head and bad back, you might just be able to pull off something truly amazing.
This clip was the last session before the National Championships. All summer we had trained and trained. We had more bad days than good. We had some regattas where we came last. Our timing, our starts, nothing worked. And then, at the very last minute, something clicked. “I want” became “We want…” and then we started rowing like this. And on the big day, lined up against those college kids – the magic kicked in, we rowed like angels and we placed bronze in the final.