As women (finally!) take their rightful place next to the men in the iconic Oxford-Cambridge boat race, we speak to one woman to hear why she loves rowing so much.
Sound the claxon, it's a Big Moment (capital B, capital M) for women in sport. This weekend, for the first time ever, women will be allowed to row on the same stretch of the Thames as the men in the iconic Oxford-Cambridge boat race (prior to now the women's race took place on a more remote stretch of the river), AND it's the first time the women's race will be televised.
Sporting icon Clare Balding will be hosting the event, and even if you don't give a toss about rowing or posh universities, you have to concede this is an important step forward for not just women in sport, but women full stop.
So in honour of this momentous occasion, we caught up with rowing-fanatic Lara Debenham. Lara is 22, studying for a maters degree in material science and engineering at Manchester University, and you may recognise her as one of the stars of the inspiring This Girl Can campaign, encouraging us to embrace our inner fitties.
Lara This Girl Can
THIS GIRL CAN
Lara is an avid rower – both indoors and out – and she couldn't feel more passionate about it. So we asked her to tell us why she loves it so much...
1. NO ONE CAN JUDGE YOUR ABILITY
"No one knows what you're working to when you're rowing – they don't know how fast or long you've been rowing for – you can do as little or as much as you want. It's great to not feel like you'll be judged depending on how good you are."
2. IT'S EASY TO STAY MOTIVATED
"I like to go rowing with my friends and we challenge each other to burn enough calories to then go and get a big Frappuccino afterwards – it might not seem like much but it's better than doing nothing at all and it gives us something to aim for…we say to each other, 'We're doing it for the Starbucks!'"
3. IT'S KIND OF LIKE MOVING MEDITATION
"I'll put my headphones in and zone out and completely go for it. It's a great escape."
4. IT'S GREAT WHEN YOU'RE BUSY
"Rowing is easy to fit into a busy schedule, as it's high intensity so you don't have to do it for very long to get a really good workout. It's quick and easy to incorporate into your routine either on a lunch break, before a lecture or for 15 minutes at the end of a long day to clear your mind and recharge."
5. IT MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE A BADASS
"You do get blisters, but I'm proud of them. To me, they're a sign that I've worked hard and my body is reminding me of that. You can moisturize or wear gloves if you like, but I'm not bothered by it!"
6. IT'S AN AMAZING WORKOUT
"I embrace and love the fact that it makes me really red faced and sweaty and if I'm not dripping with sweat when I finish, I don't feel like I've worked hard enough! I used to worry about what I looked like, but I realised that no one else cares how you look when your exercising, it's only you that it bothers. Don't let it, a bit of sweat never hurt anyone!"
7. IT'S NOT WEATHER DEPENDENT – AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A PRO
"More people should take up rowing as it's really flexible and can be tailored to suit anyone any ability. It's a great full body workout, which can be quick to fit into most lifestyles and with indoor machines, whatever the weather as well!"