Twelve staff and pupils had the experience of a lifetime at the beginning of September when they entered the Great River Race, an event which has been dubbed "the rower’s London Marathon". After a celebrity send-off from William Franklin, the team finished the 22-mile course in the excellent time of 4h10m.
One of the participants, Upper Sixth pupil James Shepherd, shares his experiences of the day: "The Great River Race was an experience I will not forget for the rest of my life. The day began with a social, party atmosphere in Twickenham that would remain with us right the way through to Greenwich. The first task was to get oneself familiar with the rhythmical flow of ‘Hearts and Wings’, our boat. The second challenge was then to at least appear competent and try to sustain a strong and consistent pace.
Rowing for 22 miles is as difficult a challenge mentally as it is physically. One of the definite ‘stand-outs’ of the day was the tremendous support the event received, not least our very own boat. Luckily for us the weather was fine, which surely helped to make the day an all-round enjoyable experience.
The final stretch of the race was, perhaps unsurprisingly, by far the most challenging. The headwind had intensified by this stage and the swell heightened. Inspired by Verity Ellis’s previous turn at coxing, I felt a great responsibility at coxing ‘Hearts and Wings’ to glory over the finish line at the Cutty Sark, to be greeted by over-jubilant parents and many other cheering fans. Losing my voice was definitely compensated for by the final satisfying feeling of successfully completing the race."
The team is now collecting pledges and money for the race, the proceeds of which will go to Cancer Research UK.