Q&A With Rower Alex Waller
Alex and I have been close friends for many years now, I have seen his complete dedication to rowing first-hand and not only how much it means to him but also the huge impact it has had on the course of his life. I managed to talk to him just after a training session and ask him a few questions about the sport he loves.
How long have you been rowing for?
This will be my fifth year as a full-time rower.
What got you into rowing?
I was inspired at a young age by my grandfather’s rowing achievements and wanted to try it out for myself.
And who have you rowed for?
St Paul’s school and Thames Rowing club. I preferred rowing at Thames though because rowing at a club is a more relaxed atmosphere, everyone is on the same level including the coaches and we have more freedom.
To what level do you row?
Other than competing on behalf of my sixth form, I have competed at national and international level from the age of 16. I have also competed in both the under 18 and under 23 GB trials. And I am continuing to row next year for Yale on a rowing scholarship.
How do you think rowing has impacted your life?
I think rowing has opened up new opportunities I otherwise might have missed or not considered such as being able to go to such an amazing US university.
What part of the Thames do you row on and what do you think about that part of the river?
Day to day, I row between Wandsworth bridge up to Chiswick or Kew Bridge. From my experience of rowing I think it is probably the most heavily polluted part of the river, the water is very filthy; plastic bottles, dead fish. It’s not nice to fall in.
What are your top tips for anyone who wants to start rowing?
If you want to do it seriously you have to be committed, to get above a novice or recreational level you have to put in a lot of hours. This is not just on the water but also in the gym. It is also important to remember rowing is an all year round sport so you have to be prepared for the cold water, snow and being splashed.
What are your kit essentials?
What are your favourite snacks post work-out?
Bananas, oat bars and malt loaf are my go to or maybe some dried mango and beef jerky to keep my energy up.
What is your ‘cheat’ snack?
Ice cream or Nutella or soft milk chocolate chip cookies are my favourite.
How do you think the water in the US will be?
The water is a lot cleaner and there seems to be a lot less pollution in the rivers and lakes so I’m looking forward to rowing there!
Do you think you will row all your life?
I think for now yes, but maybe not to the same level later on in life but it’s great to keep fit.
How good to you think rowing is as a sport for one’s personal fitness?
Rowing has been proven to be the only sport that uses all the muscles in the body so in my opinion it is the best sport to keep fit. It also teaches you life skills; you really have to learn to keep your focus and time management is also really important.
Do you enjoy the sport as a pass-time or is it purely a competitive sport for you?
I would still want to compete all my life however, I wouldn’t want to train this hard for the rest of my life. It can be rough at times competing to such a high level, but at the end of the day, being able to say that all my training has led to a victory or medal and that I can say I really earned makes it all worth it.
By Siena Barry-Taylor