Posted: 23 January 2024

The Hogmanay bells had barely rung out when the first event of 2024 had kicked off in the form of the Scottish Rowing Performance Land Camp. The invitational camp brought together athletes from clubs across Scotland and from a range of our Performance Pathway programmes, including:

  • Scottish Rowing Performance Programme (inc. Flatwater, Beach Sprints, US Based & Para athletes)
  • Performance Development Academy
  • Junior Academy
  • Winning Students 100 Scholarship Athletes
  • U19 & U23 GB Triallists

The camp, held at Oriam, Scotland’s Sports Performance Centre on the Heriot-Watt University campus in Edinburgh, ran for 10 days at the start of January (Junior Academy for 5 days) before many athletes returned to school, university and work after their festive breaks. This being the first time that Scottish Rowing has taken on a camp of this size with multiple programmes linked together and all involved are pleased to see what came of the collaboration!

 “The land camp was a huge success with athletes coming together from multiple programmes, it really felt like we had a Team Scotland where everyone was supporting each other from athletes to coaches and volunteers. I can’t wait to see what else we do this year!”  - Cara O’Donnell, Scottish Rowing’s Sports Programme Coordinator



Photo: Athletes training on the erg in the Oriam.


The 36 athletes taking part, who resided in the Courtyard Marriot Edinburgh West Hotel on the university campus, got to live the life of a full-time athlete, taking on multiple training sessions each day, with educational sessions also planned throughout the camp, exploring a variety of different training modalities among the S&C and ergometer backbone of the programme.

The camp programme was designed by Tom Young (Lead Performance Pathway Coach) and delivered by the Performance Pathway Coaching Team, providing the athletes with an opportunity not only to complete high quality training, but to explore the skills and behaviours that will allow them to get the most from their training in the future, and to develop their technical skills and versatility.

The camp also provided an invaluable coach development opportunity.  Nine members of the new Scottish Rowing Coach Academy and seven coaches/volunteers from our club programmes were also invited to join the team at the camp. This opportunity allowed coaches to experience working with a mix of athletes across the pathway, gather knowledge from the lead coaches and practitioners running sessions and embrace a high-performance training camp environment.




Photo: Core workout as part of a Strength & Conditioning session with Chris Robinson.


Several of our lead practitioners from the sportscotland institute of sport were brought in to run sessions at the camp. All strength and conditioning sessions were led by Chris Robinson (Senior Physical Preparation Coach), Peter Bonner (Performance Physiologist) was on site to monitor training for the senior athletes to help them find the ‘sweet spot’ for all sessions as well as boosting their warm-up and recovery techniques. A Winter Health and Performance Nutrition workshop was run by Ailis Robertson (Performance Nutritionist) helping athletes to keep themselves healthy during the winter months.  They also received education on how to maximise their fuelling during periods of high training loads.



Photo: Clean Sport Workshop ran by UK Anti-Dopin.


Edinburgh University’s Head of Sport Psychology, Matilda Mayne, delivered a "Managing Training and Studying" session for our Junior Academy as many were preparing for their prelims. Working on how to create their schedules and the importance of having free time. The camp schedule balanced training and study time for these young athletes to facilitate their learning, where they could put this knowledge into practice. Matilda, showing her diverse skillset, also ran a session for the whole camp, helping them to regenerate and recover with the gentle movements of Yin Yoga.

Whilst Sarah and Ali from UK Anti-Doping ran Clean Sport workshops for both our Junior and Senior athletes to help protect the integrity of our sport and to teach them best practice around Anti-Doping and being 100% Me!

“The camp highlighted the strength of the 'Team Scotland' approach - a streamlined, systematic approach to pathway development where juniors are spending time around senior athletes and learning from them, and senior athletes can start to understand the impact of their role modelling on others.
It's also a wonderful opportunity for support staff from different organisations to cross over and share their expertise.” – Matilda Mayne, Head of Sport Psychology, University of Edinburgh



Photo: Junior Academy athletes trying a 'Plank Challenge.'


One of the camp participants helped to deliver a slightly different session early in the camp. Captain of the England Women’s Blind Football Team (and St Andrew Boat Club / SR Performance Programme athlete) Samantha-Louise Gough was kind enough to run a blind football session for the group. Samantha, who is legally blind, is very open to discussing her disability to help educate others and raise awareness. The athletes put on some blindfolds and did a series of mini games in small groups before trying to shoot some penalties. A great session!



Photo: Samantha-Louise Gough leading the blind football session.


The athletes also benefitted from multiple erg sessions including long distance, technique focussed and pieces. The camp also included some Trunk and Robustness sessions which highlighted the importance of a strong core.There was variety in the cross-fit sessions too with athletes utilising the spin and erg bikes and surrounding area to go for runs. They also took an afternoon to go for a walk in the Pentland Hills. 



Photo: Athletes enjoying a walk up the Pentland Hills.


What our athletes thought!

“I have enjoyed the training sessions, getting feedback from top coaches and the environment created by the combined camps. Also, the food!” -Junior Academy Athlete

"Teaching blind football to everyone on the Scottish Rowing camp hopefully gave an insight to blind sport and also visual impairments. Also provide a safe space to ask questions on my visual impairment and get to know me more than my disability. I was happy that everyone was engaging with the session" – Samantha-Louise Gough, Scottish Rowing Performance Programme.

“The Land Camp was a great opportunity to experience what its like to train as a full-time athlete whilst also being with a group of people from different disciplines.” -Nathaniel Fishburn, Performance Development Academy.



Photo: Junior Academy athletes outside the Oriam.


As the Junior Academy camp drew to a close, we welcomed Eira Parry to the camp who delivered one of her highly regarded High-Performance Parenting workshops. 18 parents came along to learn more about how to support their young athletes and discussed the struggles they do or may face with a child in competitive sport. This was well received by parents from multiple clubs and programmes across Scotland and we hope to do similar workshops in the future.

My child was keen to attend and very happy after the camp. I get the impression the coaching staff are excellent, and she has learnt a huge amount from the nutrition and sports prep/psychology tutorials. I really liked the talk to parents on the Sunday of camp 3. That was excellent.” -Junior Academy Parent



Photo: Eira Parry delivering the High Performance Parenting workshop.


“The camp has provided an excellent platform for our athletes to kick-start their year with a solid training block under their belts, whilst facilitating a high-challenge, high-support environment where athletes can learn from each other and the experienced team of coaches and practitioners.  I’d like to thank everyone who helped to make the camp a huge success.” – Lee Boucher, Scottish Rowing’s Head of Performance and Pathways

The camp was a great success, and we look forward to providing more opportunities like this for the rowing community in the months ahead. We already have many more exciting things lined up for 2024, including hosting the Home International Rowing (HIR) Regatta at Strathclyde Park and the British Rowing Beach Sprints Championships in St Andrews!