Members of Keswick-based Lakeland Rowing Club won medals in four categories at British Rowing’s annual Indoor Championships held earlier this month.
More than 1,800 rowers from 42 countries took part in the event, which was contested online due to COVID-19, racing side-by-side in real time on rowing machines in homes and gyms around the world.
Seven Lakeland members entered, and thanks to their results, the medallists have all qualified for the 2021 World Indoor Rowing Championships, to be held online in February.
Samantha Ayers tied for gold in the women’s lightweight age 50-54 500m race, finishing in 1 minute 44.7 seconds, a dead heat with a competitor from Germany.
Samantha, of Eaglesfield, who runs exercise company BodyFit Cumbria, also won silver at 2,000m in 7 mins 44.6 secs.
Celia Whittam, of Troutbeck, took silver in the women’s age 60-64 500m category, completing the course in 1 min 50.6 secs, while Nick Cowan, from Eaglesfield, finished in bronze in the men’s 60-64 2000m race with a time of 6 mins 52.5 secs.
Samantha said: “It was a bit surreal to think that I was sitting in my garage, racing people from all over the world, but it was great to have the opportunity, as many sports have had to curtail all racing this year.
“Another positive was that far more people were able to enter than usual, because we were competing from home, and that meant the quality of the field was high.”
Celia added: “I entered the championships this year as it didn’t require travelling to London. My son arrived on race day with his laptop to sign me in and then I was on countdown.
“I started well, settled into my pace, managed to maintain it and suddenly realised I was nearing the finish, so I increased my effort to get there faster and ended up as the silver medallist.”
Twenty-three-year-old Rosie Mason, of Cockermouth, completed the open age category women’s 2,000m race in 7 mins 33.4 secs – a personal best by five seconds – putting her in 11th place.
She said: “I trained with Sam and Nick at Lifestyle Fitness in Cockermouth and over Zoom, which was a really great experience for me.
“On the day, my race had three false starts, which helped calm my nerves, as I just ended up just being annoyed after the third one instead of nervous.”
Arthur Lester, who lives near Cockermouth, rowed in the men’s 40-44 2,000m race, finishing 24th in 6 mins 32.4 secs.
David Pratt, of Borrowdale, was 11th in the men’s 55-59 500m race in 1 min 31.5, while Gordon Jack, of Greysouthen, rowed the same distance in 1 min 37.9 secs to finish eighth the 60-64 age group.
Gordon said: “It was the first time I had raced virtually, side-by-side. All I had to do was plug my rowing machine into my computer and connect to the racing app.
“It was great to see all the competitors’ avatars moving along on the screen so you could gauge your relative position. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.”
Lakeland Rowing Club’s chairman, Stefan Escreet, added: “For a small and relatively new club, the results were outstanding.”