Why you’ll love Race on the Thames

amanda.crawford
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We’re taking a time-honored rowing tradition and giving it a twist! The Boat Race is one of the oldest, most celebrated rowing events in the world. In fact, modern competitive rowing can be traced back to London, and specifically to the River Thames. For nearly two centuries, only athletes from the two prestigious universities Oxford and Cambridge could participate, but now we’ve invited Hydrow Athletes, renowned rowers from the UK and beyond — and you! As you speed down the Tideway during Hydrow’s own Race on the Thames, take a moment to celebrate the heritage that inspired this event. 

In Race on the Thames, six Hydrow Athletes are joined by an esteemed community of professional rowers consisting of Olympians, a Henley Royal Regatta Winner, an Oxford Boat Race alumnus, Team Great Britain athletes, and three Members of the Order of the British Empire. The energy and competitive spirit will be palpable when you’re on the water rowing with this remarkably talented crew.

We asked coxswain and multiple Olympic gold medalist for Team USA Mary Whipple why she was excited to lead her boat down the Tideway and she said, “This was a bucket-list moment for me. The great thing about rowing is that you can come from many different backgrounds but once we were in the boat it didn’t matter if you’re from Great Britain or represent the U.S., rowing is rowing! It was amazing to feel everyone’s effort. Once you join a team, you can become a better version of what you can do alone.”

Not only was this a reunion of sorts for this celebrated group, but it was also a homecoming for our own Athlete Mike Dostal. “It was a bit of a dream for me obviously, having moved to the U.S. [from the UK] since 2004, I’ve only had a few opportunities to go back. Getting to be back on the Tideway where I’ve raced many times brought me back to my youth. And of course what made it that much sweeter was that these are a bunch of my friends, you know, people that I grew up with and have rowed with since I was a kid. To get to be back again was just really, really fun.”

An opportunity for local up-and-coming athletes 

In addition to the distinguished athletes mentioned above, we also invited four rowers from local secondary school Mossbourne Community Academy to race with us: Mia Smerdon, Danny Shaw, Jia Chen, and Charlie Adams. These young athletes are part of the London Youth Rowing program, a local non-profit initiative that helps develop young people through physical activity and open access to rowing at all levels. London Youth Rowing’s hope is that young people across London would have access to an otherwise traditionally niche sport and help the rowing community become a more diverse, more inclusive environment.

We asked Jia Chen what it was like to participate in the Race on the Thames and she said “I really enjoyed the Hydrow experience since I was able to row with Olympians and people who have won Henley in the past. That is what pushed me to be technically better and pushed me to work harder in the boats so I could keep up with them.”

Hydrow Members come from all backgrounds and levels of rowing experience so supporting London Youth Rowing’s initiative to advance the next generation of local rowers was a welcome opportunity. “The whole thing was just so special. We came into this tight-knit UK rowing community on this famous course and filled the boats with people that all love the same thing. They all love rowing, from the up-and-comers to the veterans and stars of the sport; it was amazing to just have everyone together in these two boats,” says Oliver Horovitz, Hydrow’s Senior Director of Content and Performance. 

We can’t wait to welcome you to the Tideway to experience the power of the Thames and celebrate the sport of rowing with this one-of-a-kind community. Read more on our blog here for a behind the scenes perspective on what it was like to film this race. We’ll see you on the water!