Rowing at Magdalen
Are you coming to Magdalen and are interested in rowing, but have never had the opportunity to do it before? Did you think that rowers had to be imposingly tall, unbelievably fit and prepared to get up at 4am eight days a week? Rowing is a sport unlike any other, but there are a lot of common misconceptions about it, and it's easy to be put off by these. Of course, if you've rowed before, you'll know most of them already - we hope to see you on the water!
So, why row?
Rowing is some of the best exercise you can do for your body. It develops cardiovascular fitness, and unlike cycling and running is a whole body sport, so strengthens your upper body, back and core. Rowing appetites are legendary - you can eat what you want without gaining weight.
Rowing is a team sport, but unlike all others (save perhaps bobsled!) you are working in complete unison with the seven other people in your boat. There is no place in a crew for divas - you have to trust that everyone else is committed to making the boat go fast in the same way that you are. This level of unity between crew-mates generates lifelong friendships and camaraderie, and brings the college together: in a boat we can have first-year undergraduates rowing and racing with PhD students.
The Social Life
We work hard, but we also play hard. Each term, the club will organise a number of social events and dinners, ranging from boozy 'crewdates' (where an MCBC crew will go for raucous dinners with a team of the opposite gender) to formal dinners in the College Hall with the President and fellows, and everything in between. There is ample opportunity to meet and bond with people throughout the university, and especially within the college.
There is nothing quite like racing in a rowing regatta. Pushing yourself to your limit, with the noise of crews all around you, but knowing that you're in a boat of people who want the same thing as you, and digging deeper to achieve that. Oxford plays host to bumps racing regattas, Torpids and Summer Eights, which turn the sport into an intense game of cat and mouse, with crews literally bumping into each other to go up and down in the weekly standings. It's a quintessential Oxford experience, and one that becomes quite addictive.
But what about me?
'I haven't rowed before'
Neither had most of us when we came here! Magdalen has a dedicated novice rowing programme, and we are well known for developing home-grown talent. In our 2016-17 season, we had rowers who had been novices at the start of the year rowing in our 1st VIIIs, and even a rower in Osiris (the Women's Boat Race second boat) who had started rowing at Magdalen two years before. You don't need experience - all you need is commitment and a good attitude, and the rest will come from there.
'But I'm not the "sporty" type'
You don't need to be. Rowing can accommodate all shapes, sizes and levels of fitness, and depending on how much you want to give to the sport, we can offer different levels of training for you. You'll soon find that with training you'll be making improvements, and feeling fitter and stronger. We're here to develop, and get the most out of you: you've always got potential.
'But I'm not 6'8"'
Height helps, but it it's not the be all and end all! A strong and efficient rower of average height who rows well with their crew can easily outperform a taller rower. If you're slight, you could also try coxing - another essential role in the boat.
'But isn't it a lot of early mornings?'
It's undeniable: rowers do put in a lot of work, and some of that work happens early. However, you may be surprised to hear that most of us aren't morning people! Schedules are carefully managed by the captains not to interfere with lectures and tutes, and to allow people time to rest. If we're too tired, we can't row well! There are different levels of commitment as well, so if you find that it's too much, we are usually able to adjust your schedules to fit.
We highly encourage you to give rowing a try - we won't force you to continue with it if you don't want to, but it is an amazing sport and a large part of college and university life. If you have any questions, or would like to know more about rowing at Magdalen, please feel free to contact our Vice Captains below, who will be happy to answer your questions. Look out for events in Freshers' Week - we hope to see you soon!
Men's VC: Sebastian Morris-Dyer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Women's VCs: Clare Cocker (email@example.com)
Grace Barfoot (firstname.lastname@example.org)