Rowing at Cambridge is an inclusive sport that offers many opportunities to learn, exercise and make friends
Lucy Student Lea Baltussen talks about rowing and winning the Lightweight race at the 2021 Boat Race
Alumna Olivia Jamrog on the benefits and support that come with rowing at Cambridge
Picture above: Olivia after crossing the finish line in the 2017 Lightweight Boat Race.
I studied Law (B.A., 2016) at Lucy and during my time at University I raced for Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club (‘CUWBC’, now ‘CUBC’) from 2016-2018, and raced for Cambridge University Cycling Club (‘CUCC’) in 2019, earning half blues in both sports.
I am now getting licensed as an attorney in the U.S. and preparing to practice as a business lawyer.
I am motivated to push myself to be my best. At Cambridge, I always felt like I was surrounded by people who saw no limits to what they could achieve – I try to embrace this in whatever I do and am always pushing myself to learn and grow.
I first got into sport in 2011, when I decided to try out for the rowing team at Michigan State University as a way to stay fit and meet new friends, and simply because I love the water! I had no idea what I was getting into, but I knew that I liked it and wanted to see what all I could do.
Winning the Lightweight Boat Race in 2017 was the highlight of my sporting achievement. That one race represented an enormous amount of hard work, both on and off the water. Adjusting to a new rowing program, university, and degree was challenging, and there were days when I questioned whether it was worth it; when we executed our race exactly as planned, I had no doubt that it was absolutely worth it. All of those early (and cold) mornings and late nights helped shape me into who I am, and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. Walking away with an emphatic victory was just the cherry on top!
Rowing benefits one's life, health and wellbeing. It has the obvious physical benefits of making you fitter, stronger, and faster. It’s very empowering to achieve times or lift weights that were once outside of reach. It’s all about constantly looking for improvement, and I ultimately learned to fall in love with that process. Another benefit comes from the endorphin rush! You really do feel good after you train, especially after you’ve been sitting all day studying or working. I also love the routine and the structure that it provides to my day, and the healthy balance that it gives outside of the academic world. Sport and academics absolutely feed off each other, and it’s rewarding to see success in both disciplines.
Last but not least, rowing has a great community and support network. It’s great to train alongside people who are motivated to achieve the same goals as you, who understand the challenges, and are there to support you and be life-long friends.
I would encourage anyone and everyone to at least give it a try, and know that it is possible to do it all – to be competitive at sport, do well in your degree, and enjoy yourself. With great organization and some discipline, there is time in your schedule to fit everything in, and once it becomes a habit, it becomes your new normal. And, keep in mind that you have a whole team of people who are doing it with you and are there to support you through the inevitable ups and downs!
I am always more than happy to talk and offer advice or suggestions, whether that’s in planning your day or week, managing the pressure, or being successful in both sport and academics. From the very beginning, I have relied on mentors and sought out their wisdom and would be delighted to give back in this way.
Picture: Olivia after racing a 25-mile time trial and earning a half-blue in 2019.