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Royal victory rounds off Wycliffe’s ‘perfect’ rowing season

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Words and pictures: Aaron Sims

Wycliffe College has earned its place among the elite names of domestic rowing with a dominant victory at the sport’s most prestigious contest – Henley Royal Regatta, writes Aaron Sims.

Competing in the Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup for junior women’s quads, the crew of Lily Martin, Violet Holbrow-Brooksbank, Mia Lowes and Eloise Etherington, faced not only the best the country has to offer but also a wealth of international crews all vying for the win.

Over six days of racing, the competition was whittled down to two crews, with Wycliffe taking an early lead in the final to best longtime rivals Marlow by a comfortable margin of four boat lengths.

First quad trophy presentation | Royal victory rounds off Wycliffe’s ‘perfect’ rowing season
First quad trophy presentation Picture: Aaron Sims

With the victory at the 185-year-old event completes a perfect season for Wycliffe’s top boat, which has gone undefeated all year. The crew also achieved the exceptionally rare “quadruple” with wins at the National Schools Regatta, Henley Women’s Regatta and the National Schools Head of the River – the latter of which saw Wycliffe break the course record by more than 30 seconds.

B quad | Royal victory rounds off Wycliffe’s ‘perfect’ rowing season
A quad at Henley Picture: Aaron Sims

In a ceremony on the riverbank of the Thames attended by hundreds, the crew was presented with their trophy and medals by Prince Albert II of Monaco and British Olympic legend Sir Steve Redgrave, cementing their place in history.

Showcasing the club’s incredible strength in depth, the club’s second quad of Lily Anderson, Georgina Joy, Natasha Phillips and Amelia Flaxman had an outstanding season in their own right with victory in the second women’s quads at Nat Schools and by becoming the first ever “B crew” to reach a semi-final in the Diamond Jubilee at Henley – their campaign only ended by being drawn against the A crew.

A quad | Royal victory rounds off Wycliffe’s ‘perfect’ rowing season
B quad. Pic: Aaron Sims

Anderson and Phillips also shone individually this year, winning Junior Singles at Henley Women’s and competing for Great Britain at the European Beach Sprint Rowing Championships respectively.

Greg Flower, Head of Rowing at Wycliffe College, said: “This has been a groundbreaking year for the club and for it to culminate in the school’s maiden win in the Diamond Jubilee has really demonstrated just how special this crew is. What they have done is truly remarkable.

Steve Redgrave presenting medals | Royal victory rounds off Wycliffe’s ‘perfect’ rowing season
Sir Steve Redgrave presenting medals Picture: Aaron Sims

“Rowing is a sport where you need to trust your crew and work flawlessly as a single unit and for them to have dominated such a competitive field for a full season is exceedingly rare and is a testament to their calibre as athletes and as friends. 

A quad vs B quad semi final | Royal victory rounds off Wycliffe’s ‘perfect’ rowing season
A quad vs B quad semi- final Picture: Aaron Sims

“The support we continue to receive from the school, parents and the rowing community means the world, and every win this season is just as much for them as it is for us.”

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