Our latest Behind the Oar features Hattie Taylor, the ultimate team player, Team Great Britain rower, and Tokyo Olympian. Read on to learn more about how she first discovered the sport, found the motivation to keep coming back, and what the Hydrow community means to her… all in her own words.
I’m always asked why I row and what I love most about rowing. The two answers I always give are: 1) being up before most people in the mornings and witnessing the calm before the hustle and bustle starts, and 2) my teammates.
Driving to training before the sun has risen, to get to the training centre and onto the water as the first commuter trains head to London is a pretty nice way to start the day. But more importantly than that, one of the biggest reasons that’s kept me rowing professionally full time for so long, through the tough workouts, is my team. In fact, I don’t remember the last time I wasn’t a part of a team. I started rowing at school in Year 7, I was twelve years old and my parents needed something to do with me during the Easter holidays, so it was decided that I would be kept occupied by the week-long rowing taster camp. The week was great - so great that I haven’t stopped almost sixteen years later. A big part of my drive for taking on rowing full time whilst at school was because I found that it came easily; height and long limbs is what any junior coach will tell you they’re looking for when you start out.
Talent in the form of height and long levers can only get you so far though, especially when the winter season training kicks in and you suddenly realise the amount of training required to compete at a high level. When you understand you have to juggle fitting in a session before school, attending lessons all day, catching up with homework, revising for looming exams and then another training session come evening, you soon realise you need more than just talent to get you through it: you need determination and dedication as well
When I left school, I took a gap year and went to Melbourne where I rowed with Melbourne University Boat Club and coached rowing at a girls’ grammar school. Moving halfway across the world when you’re 18 is a hard thing to do, especially when you don’t know anybody. I was nervous about a number of things before I went, but making friends wasn’t one of them. I knew there would be an entire team for me to get to know. Some of the friends I made on that team are still my best friends to this day, even from halfway across the world.
After Melbourne, I made my way to Syracuse University in upstate New York - another country, culture and lifestyle to learn to navigate. Once again, the stress around making friends and finding ‘my people’ was taken away because I knew I would be joining the rowing team - and my teammates were amazing. They were incredible, like-minded women training hard whilst figuring out how to balance university work and (occasionally) have a social life. It was the same situation all over again when I graduated from Syracuse and moved back to the UK to join the Senior Team at GB Rowing. I've been on the GB Rowing Team now for four and a half years and raced and medalled at a number of World Cups, European Championships and World Championships. Most recently, I was selected for the Women's Four for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and finished fourth there.
From the United Kingdom, to Melbourne, to New York and back to the UK again, my teammates have been the ones who have welcomed me back and made the move that much easier.
On the days I’ve struggled with getting up to train, because of the weather, or sheer exhaustion, the thought of my friends all there together has made it so much easier. Teammates offer motivation, support and guidance amongst other things, but what I most enjoy about being a part of a team is that even on your worst days, there is somebody there to put things into perspective and make those bad days seem better.
My experience of Hydrow so far has echoed a lot of this. I’d heard so many good things about the community, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Before I got my Hydrow, I joined the Facebook group, with Members from around the globe sharing their experiences, asking others for advice and offering funny Hydrow-related anecdotes. What struck me instantly when scrolling through the feed was how kind, generous and thoughtful the members were, which isn’t always the case on social media. This alone made me excited to get my Hydrow and start being able to join in the conversation. It was difficult at first to consider how I would work out alone in my conservatory, as I worried it would be like during lockdown when I had to train by myself - but as soon as I joined the Facebook group, I realised that I wouldn’t be alone at all. I had the entire Hydrow community, in the UK and the United States, at my fingertips.
Even when I’m on the rower, seeing one of the amazing Athletes leading a workout is such great motivation. This applies to the live rows in particular. Seeing other Members accomplish milestones is pretty cool, and it’s pushing me to hit my first milestone as well!
All in all, the community at Hydrow lives up to everything I’d heard about it. It’s the closest you’ll get to being a part of a team whilst working out in your living room. I’m really looking forward to spending more time on the Hydrow, racking up the meters, hitting milestones and making new friends.
Hattie and her teammates racing in the Team GB Women's Four at the Tokyo Olympics