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2020: A year of challenges, but much to be proud of

Posted: 31 December, 2020

I think everyone will agree that 2020 has been a challenging year! It is hard not to look back over the last few months at all the things we have missed in our rowing lives; club rivalries on the water, time spent catching up with friends on the riverbank, the famous Strathclyde Park Danny special and cheering on the GB Rowing team in Tokyo. There will also be some for whom this pandemic has left deeper scars of financial hardship, illness or the loss of a loved one.

But for most of us there are still things to celebrate and be proud of. The support we have had from clubs who have worked so hard to keep members active and engaged; the flexibility, adaptability and passion of the Scottish Rowing staff and volunteers who have supported clubs and provided opportunities and activities in a frustrating and uncertain environment, and the understanding from our membership of the need to prioritise public health being only a few.

Since Day 1, the initiative and resilience of the rowing community has shone through with staff, club coaches and volunteers striving to deliver as much as safely possible in whatever Routemap Phase or Protection level we found ourselves in. Coaches developed lockdown training with the result that many athletes have produced PB’s. Clubs quickly got quizzes, challenges and online workouts up and running and everyone got behind the “Lockdown League” and logged on to zoom calls and webinars like we’d been doing it forever.

As the strict lockdown ended, clubs turned their efforts to getting the doors open safely and getting activity happening where possible. Club volunteers took on new responsibilities as Covid officers and had to get to grips with many pages of guidance and gallons of cleaning products, hand sanitiser and PPE.

It is easy to forget that we are one of the lucky sports. Most clubs have been able to get back on the water - even if it was short-lived for some - while many other sports are still watching from the side-lines. Many of us have been able to meet up with friends and team mates to go rowing again and enjoy the physical and mental benefits of being outside, on the water, being active.

Even those clubs who can’t get on the water yet have worked hard to stay positive and keep their members involved. Well done to the University of St Andrews BC and Dundee Uni BC for all your efforts.

As we look forward to 2021 there are many reasons to be positive. I am writing this on the day that the first vaccinations were administered in the UK, bringing hope that we will start to see a return to normality (or new normality?) sometime in 2021. What this year has demonstrated above all else is the close and supportive community we have in rowing. The need to embrace new technology has brought us closer together and dissolved the miles between us. Virtual racing brought competitors from all over the world to the Scottish Rowing Indoor Championships. We have had more regular dialogue with clubs and been able to bring some of the best talents in rowing and coaching into your living rooms.

We will continue to build on these benefits in 2021 and are working on some exciting new initiatives for clubs to get involved with which we will start to reveal early in the New Year. A priority is looking at how we can adapt our competition model to provide opportunities for people to have fun and measure progress and we will continue to provide challenges both on and off the water.

Thank you to everyone who has played their part in keeping rowing going in 2020 as coach, volunteer or rower. All of us at Scottish Rowing wish you all the best for a healthy and happy 2021.