A Cumbrian rowing club has won three medals at the World Rowing Virtual Indoor Championships.
Lakeland Rowing Club’s Celia Whittam, Samantha Ayers and Nick Cowan were among the rowers representing Great Britain in the championships, contested online this week, racing in real-time against competitors on rowing machines in homes and gyms across the world.
The trio qualified for the worlds after picking up medals at December’s British Rowing Indoor Championships (BRIC).
Celia, from Troutbeck, took silver in the women’s age 60+ 500m category in 1 min 48.7 seconds, almost two seconds faster than her time to win the same medal at BRIC.
Samantha, from Eaglesfield, won bronze in the women’s lightweight age 50-54 2,000m race in a personal best time of 7 mins 34.9 secs.
The owner of exercise company BodyFit Cumbria, who learned to row with Derwentwater-based Lakeland RC just three years ago, shaved nearly ten seconds off her BRIC silver medal time.
Samantha also took fourth place in the women’s lightweight 50-54 500m final in 1 min 44.2 secs.
Nick Cowan, also from Eaglesfield, won bronze in the men’s 60-64 2000m race with a time of 6 mins 45.9 secs, almost seven seconds ahead of his BRIC bronze medal time.
Celia said: “After I was placed second at BRIC, I was encouraged by a few club members to go further. The COVID-19 restrictions made the world competition a virtual event, enabling me to compete at a level I hadn’t previously considered.
“I started training in January with a couple of short sessions on the rower each week, though most of my fitness training was getting out each day making use of the mountains and quiet roads while continuing Zoom lessons in ballet and Pilates.
“Race day started with rearranging the kitchen to get the rowing machine and equipment set up to meet the criteria.”
Her son Paul looked after the technology, which included a live video feed.
Celia added: “The race went well, though the excitement of the event and what I had achieved didn’t register until after when I was viewing the video footage and commentary. I was pleased with my time and even more pleased with the silver medal position.”
Meanwhile, Lakeland RC members Julia McCumiskey, from Keswick, Stefan Escreet, from Bassenthwaite, and Helen Tucker and Alex Morgan, from Cockermouth, have set their sights on rowing a far longer distance.
This weekend they will begin a world endurance record attempt, organised by US indoor rower Bryan Fuller, to achieve the longest ever continuous row of over 40 million metres, equivalent to rowing around the equator.
More than 100 indoor rowers from all over the world are taking part in the non-stop relay of half-hour sessions to support the work of global medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders during the pandemic.
The previous record of 10 million metres was set across 34 days of non-stop rowing last year by members of the same group.
If you have access to a Concept 2 rowing machine and are interested in joining them, or if you would like to make a donation, go to www.borderrowers.com.
Beginners or returning rowers, keen to know more about opportunities at Lakeland RC can visit www.lakelandrowingclub.com or find them on Facebook.