Brighton students helping all-women rowing team in world record challenge
University of Brighton students are drawing on their learning to support six Sussex women setting off in the ‘The World’s Toughest Rowing Race’ on 12 June.
Starting and finishing in London, the GB Row Challenge involves circumnavigating Great Britain in a 2000 nautical mile test of around-the-clock endurance mixing sleep deprivation and dehydration with all the perils of the sea. The first GB Row Challenge took place in 2005, and to date, only one female crew (with four members) has completed it, taking 51 days in 2010. The race has never been attempted by a female team of six.
A quartet of University of Brighton Physiology Masters students responded to a call for support from recent Brighton alumna Lia Evans (pictured right) – who graduated with BSc Physiotherapy from the university in 2020 – to help her ‘All Systems Row‘ team of women key workers in attempting to beat the women’s World Record for the Great Britain circumnavigation set in 2010.
Backing up the All Systems Row team are students Jack Donnelly, Hallum Cousins, Isaac Studd and Alex Jago, who are drawing on their MSc work in Applied Exercise Physiology and Strength & Conditioning to provide the rowers with guidance on how best to train and prepare themselves both physically and mentally for the unique challenge of an ultra-endurance row. Specific areas they have looked at include functional movement, nutrition strategies, fatigue indexes and sleep hygiene.
Jack Donnelly, studying for MSc Applied Sport and Exercise Physiology at University of Brighton, said: “The uniqueness of the GB Row has presented various challenges and allowed us to expand on our physiological knowledge, while gaining insight into working as a physiologist.
“Over the past months we have built a great relationship with all members of the ‘All Systems Row’ team as they prepare for this amazing expedition. We hope the support we have provided will contribute to their arriving back at Tower Bridge with a world record under their belts!”
Lia Evans said: “My self-confidence to break boundaries was cultivated at the University of Brighton. Against my family’s wishes, I wanted to attend university, though I was not academic, and scraped through school. But I was just accepted for who I was at the Brighton, which was a turning point in my life. I am proud to say I graduated with first-class honours and achieved the job I aspired to have.
“Graduating early due to the pandemic was not easy but I could not have been better prepared for my post at East Sussex Hospital Trust. My lecturers believed in me and I am proud to have been a part of a university that supported diverse students, from a wide range of backgrounds.
The University of Brighton also enabled me to try new sports, get involved in the PASS leadership program, the Physiotherapy Society and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, founding a good network for my professional life.”
Lia – who now works as a physiotherapist at East Sussex NHS trust – will row alongside five other Sussex key workers, ranging in age from 21 to 62. Alongside their record attempt, the All Systems Row team will be raising money and awareness for the charity Renewable World, which supports the provision of affordable renewable energy service to improve income, health and education across the globe.
The other women in the All Systems Row team are Andrea Harwood, Fiona Jamie, Jess Plail, Steph Toogood, and Charlie Cooper. Read more about the team members.