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Portugal training camp

Halfway through the Easter Holidays, forty boys headed off to Portugal to take part in an 8 day training camp just north of Porto. We stayed in a hotel right next to the beautiful Caniçada lake. We had the lake completely to ourselves which went on for 8km uninterrupted. The lack of distractions and need to constantly turn around meant that we could be very efficient with our training. We rowed two to three sessions a day, spending time in both small boats (to help work on more technical aspects of our rowing) and big boats (to get ready for summer racing). Having four eights and a four, we were able to practice a lot of side-by-side paddling and racing which was crucial to start feeling comfortable with the pressure of rowing alongside other crews. A lot of long steady state sessions took place to build up our aerobic engines, but there were plenty of high-intensity workouts and speed work to make sure we were cultivating the racing mentality and getting our bodies race-ready. The small boats acted as a perfect way to make technical improvements with very short and focused sessions with plenty of coaching.

The distinguished GB rowing coach, Robin Williams, joined us for the duration of the camp and was an invaluable addition to the coaching staff. He talked to us about how to get ready for regatta racing and how to go about implementing important changes. Using video footage and his olympic medal-winning experience, he quickly highlighted issues and helped try to amend them.

With GCSEs or A-levels coming up for most boys, the camp was also a nice distraction from 24/7 revision. Time slots after lunch were allocated for revision and they were utilised by some. Others claimed the post-lunch slump meant a nap or Netflix was a necessity.

The Hotel Beleza Serra always provided us with plenty of delicious food to refuel after long sessions. Soup and white bread rolls featured heavily and ice-creams and other snacks were always on offer at the bar for those who still felt hungry.

The weather was very nice. It rarely rained and was sunny on most days which made the whole experience a lot more enjoyable than that of last year. The final water session of the camp did, however, see thunder storms and lightning brewing but we managed to get off the water in good time.

The camp finished with the infamous Portugal quiz which helped to bring together the Colts and Upper Boats, before the pre-flight erg session.

We are really grateful to all members of staff for giving up their holidays to come along to Portugal, especially Mr Cross for the transportation of and rigging of the boats and his help in navigating us into the water every session. Mrs Hardy was also very helpful in providing some physiotherapy to the boys with pain or muscular troubles.

All boats seemed to have improved enormously and, with Wallingford coming up next week, it will be interesting to see if we can capitalise on those improvements.

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