Having been a crew for less than a month, it was time for Cheadle’s first competition: Queen’s Ergs.
Our heat was at 4pm. Loaded up on carbs and anticipation, we nervously headed over to Queen’s about an hour before (nearly losing half of the team en route, but we all made it in the end!). We registered, changed into our t-shirts (and Trisha into some particularly jazzy SSBC leggings) and had some “good clean fun” decorating our faces with red and blue war paint (thanks Camille!).
Our supposedly “illegal” erg warmup was halted prematurely (the unused ergs were apparently reserved for Queens’ people only!), but we made up for it with our favourite mix of squat jumps, high knees and balancing exercises (with Heather trialling yet another creative yoga pose). In the minutes before we began to compete, Camille led us through a few rounds of the SSBC song, growing all of our excitement whilst keeping the nerves at bay.
Entering the hall was equally terrifying and surreal – we couldn’t believe how many people were crammed around ergs in such a small space! And before we knew it, it was time to race…
Una (7-seat) kicked off the race with an impressive 1:52.4 for her 500m, giving us a great start in third place overall. Heather (5-seat) finished in 1:59.2, followed by Dominika (6-seat) in 2:11.3, then Anna (4-seat) taking us to the halfway line with 1:56.8. Bea (2-seat) came next with a speedy 2:05.7, then Lottie (bow) went MAD, shocking us all with her astonishing 2:03.7 – faster than we’d ever seen her go before! Sophie (stroke) followed with a rapid 1:54.6, before Sandra (3-seat) took us to the finish line in an incredible 1:49.9 (all the while maintaining her signature effortless poker face)!
And we were done! With legs like jelly and voices raw from shouting, we collapsed into a huge group hug. We’d given it our all and every single one of us hit a new personal best, well below each of our target paces! Trisha and Camille were to thank for our smooth and speedy 20 second changeovers, and we all loved Katy’s cheers and videos from the balcony. Being supported, encouraged and motivated by each other on all sides was such an exhilarating experience, surrounded by calls of “breathe,” “push with the legs” and “you can do this,” in addition to ten other teams screaming the same and music blasting through the speakers too!
We finished 6th in our heat with an average pace of 1:59.2 – something we’re all hugely proud of. A huge thank you to Katy and Camille for both being such fab coaches – we’re also grateful for how much you’ve taught us in such a short period of time, and can’t wait to learn more before our upcoming debut race on the water. Watch this space…!
— the Cheadle queens