British Rowing's Rising Stars

British Rowing's Rising Stars

Following yet more extraordinary exploits over the summer, GB Rowing's position on the world stage has never been stronger. Collective success across the age groups means both our near and long-term future is in safe hands as we travel through the Paris Olympiad. 

Two stars of the U23 team - Miles Beeson and Lauren Henry - agreed to speak to Square Blades after winning gold in the Men's Coxless Fours, and finishing fourth in the Women's Single Scull respectively.

Miles Beeson

How did you first get involved with the sport of rowing?

In 2013 my mum dropped me off at an Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association (ASRA) learn-to-row week to keep me busy during the summer holidays. I wasn't completely convinced about the rowing side of things at first but it was a fun time and I made some great friends out of it. A group of us started going a couple of times a week and we were hooked pretty quickly from then on.  

What was your first significant memory in the sport?

The first time I was out in a single scull I capsized whilst there was ice in the river and that has stuck pretty clearly in my mind. Thankfully, I've mostly managed to stay out of the water since then.   

What do you perceive to be your greatest achievement in the context of rowing?

Winning the Yale-Harvard race last season and setting a new course record felt pretty special. There is so much history in that race and it's something that is always on our mind as Yale oarsmen. We'd had quite a tough season with injury and illness so it felt amazing to finish the year off in that way with such a great team. 

What do you enjoy most about rowing?

I love racing and I'm lucky enough to get to do that almost every day at Yale. For me, it's hard to beat the feeling of being 500m into a race when the adrenaline from the start has worn off and you can just look up, get a sense of where you are in the field, and settle into the grind. I've had some great coaches who have really helped me to get into a mindset where I'm almost disappointed if there isn't a boat pushing us hard as we get into the middle of the race. That's what makes the game of rowing fun. 

Why did you choose to study in the US and pursue the sport? 

No one in Aberdeen really knew anything about US universities so the whole recruitment process was a bit of a shock to me. I couldn't believe that they would pay for my flight to come and visit and I definitely didn't realise how high the standard out there was. In the end, studying in the US turned out to be the perfect opportunity for me to get a nice balance of rowing and academics. I also could not pass up the chance to row under Steve Gladstone who is absolutely one of the all-time greatest coaches in the sport. 

What are your long-term ambitions in rowing?

You have to be ambitious in this sport or you won't get anywhere so I'm going to be bold and say I want an Olympic medal. There is a lot of work  that has to be done to get me anywhere near that goal but everyone has to start somewhere. In the meantime I have now lost two Henley finals on the trot so I'm pretty keen to get my hands on one of those little red boxes... 

What’s a top tip to help enable success in the sport? 

Be someone who people want to row with. Gladstone always says "be known by your actions" and I think that it's particularly true for rowing where there is a lot of hype and speculation but in the end it's almost always those who put in the work that come up on top. People notice if you don't finish an erg or keep showing up late to training and come race day you don't want your teammates to have any doubts about your commitment. On a less philosophical note, Feather and Square hand balm is absolutely essential if you are like me and get messed up hands from rowing!

How has rowing helped you develop as a person? 

The work ethic that rowing instills in you is so incredibly valuable. Sitting at a desk doing homework or working an office job always feels pretty easy compared to staring at an erg screen for hours or getting up early to go out on the water when it's freezing cold. It also helps me to appreciate little things like having drinks with friends or actually having time to read a book which I would probably take for granted without such an intense schedule. 

How can rowing attract a wider and higher calibre of potential entrants?

Wider and higher calibre might be separate issues. I think more short sprint events could be great to increase exposure and get the public excited about rowing in general. Perhaps there could be some showcase events where international crews like Harvard and Yale come over and race British crews over a shorter distance. 

Lauren Henry

How did you first get involved with the sport of rowing?

I first got involved with rowing at a small club called Hollowell Scullers in Northamptonshire. My twin sister and her friend from school had started about a year before and I decided to go down one day in the summer. I didn’t take to the sport at all in the beginning, but I stuck with it and soon caught the rowing bug!

What was your first significant memory in the sport?

Evesham Regatta in 2014. It was my first event and not long after I’d started rowing. I was racing in a WJ12 double and I didn’t know what to expect, except that I really wanted to win. When the race started I fell off my seat on the first stroke and I thought they’d restart the race. They didn’t and the opposition had finished the 500m course before I’d even managed to get back on to my seat!

What do you perceive to be your greatest achievement in the context of rowing?

I’d say my greatest achievement is probably coming fourth in the U23 single at this year’s World Championships. I had such a tough year with illness, injuries and quite a lot of bad luck and that meant I was out of the boat for 85% of the season. We had a very short but fantastic build up and I was going quite a bit faster than I’d ever gone before. It was an absolutely stacked field which produced the fastest times ever in the event. Whilst I’m slightly gutted to have missed out on a medal, I couldn’t be prouder of what I managed to do given the circumstances and I’m incredibly grateful for all the support I got throughout this season.

What do you enjoy most about rowing?

I love the daily grind and pushing to be the very best version of myself every single day and I feel I am incredibly fortunate to be able to dedicate so much time to something I love so much.

What are your long-term ambitions in rowing?

For the upcoming season my ambition is to definitely to win the U23 single at the World Championships - I’ve come fourth in the single two years in a row now so I’m really hoping I can better that next year! After that, my sights are firmly set on making the team for Paris. My ultimate goal is to be Olympic and World Champion in the single scull. I think that it would be the most incredible achievement!

What’s a top tip to help enable success in the sport?

I think the most important things to be successful are doing your very best every day, being coachable and learning to really enjoy the training - it makes it so much more fun and that helps me to get the best out of myself!!

How has rowing helped you develop as a person?

If rowing has taught me anything, it’s resilience. I’ve had lots of barriers to overcome and been knocked down so many times. It’s all about getting back up, dusting yourself off and making yourself a better athlete by learning from your experiences.

How can rowing attract a wider and higher calibre of potential entrants?

I currently race for Leicester Rowing Club, which is a small, friendly club in the middle of Leicester. They currently have a partnership with a local state school, which allows the students to go out on the water as part of their PE curriculum. I think that it’s really important that everyone is able to access the sport.


words by Junior Rowing News
photo by AllMarkOne


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