Adaptive rowers go on coaching course

Adaptive athletes recently completed the four-day course at Stratford upon Avon BC alongside able-bodied athletes: a first for the club and for British Rowing


Stratford’s Kelly Donald being assessed by British Rowing’s Marcus Walker whilst giving ‘buddy rowers’ tasks to do

The course was run by British Rowing’s Dr Perse Wynn, L3 Senior Club and L2 Strength and Conditioning Coach and Marcus Walker, Level 2 and L3 Course Coach. The extensive curriculum covered topics such as risk management; warming up and cooling down exercises; understanding the assessment process; coaching behaviours; the coaching code of conduct; responsibility; safety requirements; cold water immersion and hypothermia; developing athleticism; and the practical application of boat adjustments.

Coach working with buddy rower Trainee coach Imogen North practicing her new coaching skills on ‘buddy rower’ Andy Morris

On the course from Stratford upon Avon BC were Sophia Ward, Jake Blatcher, Gillian Middleton and Kelly Donald, all members of the club’s adaptive squad and Imogen North who is trainee coach with Stratford’s J15 squad. They were joined by Rachel Morris from Guildford RC.

Rachel has enjoyed a successful career as a hand-cyclist, winning time trial gold at Beijing 2008 and a bronze medal in the road race at London 2012. Seeking a new challenge, Rachel transferred to rowing in 2013 and won an outstanding gold medal in the PR1 (arms and shoulders only) women’s single scull boat at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Shoulder surgery following the Rio Games sadly curtailed Morris’s rowing career and she retired from international rowing in 2017. She now rows and coaches at Guildford in Surrey.

Paralympic rower with hotel manager and SuABC member Rachel with Nero, assistance dog; Magdalena Maciaszczyk, Guest Services Manager, Crowne Plaza Stratford; Mark Dewdney, Head Adaptive Coach, SuABC

Perse Wynn said, “I thoroughly enjoyed working with the coaches from Stratford and Guildford as they worked their way through the L2 Club Coach Award. I look forward to seeing them move forward with their coaching.” Mark Dewdney, Stratford upon Avon BC’s Head Adaptive Coach added, “To have the British Rowing coaches’ course at Stratford is a major benefit and shows British Rowing’s commitment to Stratford’s adaptive squad and to adaptive rowing in the UK. The emphasis of the course is to teach the participants how to be a coach first and then how to adapt their new skills to adaptive rowing.”

Stratford Boat Club’s adaptive section has recently been held up as an exemplar for adaptive rowing in the United Kingdom: this has only been possible with the support of local Stratford and Warwickshire companies and regional and national organisations. Commenting further, Paul Stanton, Stratford upon Avon BC’s President said, “We are also most grateful to Crowne Plaza Stratford for providing Rachel’s accommodation, which has enabled her to join the course.”