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It’s never too late to start

Ysabelle is a second-year undergraduate and is a member of UCL Boat Club. She came to talk to us about what it means to be in a society. 

(That’s me on the far right of header picture!) Before I came to Uni, I had never rowed, not even canoeing, so this was a totally new experience for me! But university is about trying something new and since I was originally from overseas (born in Korea and then Canada and Australia), I thought Freshers’ would be a good opportunity to try something new.

When I joined the Boat Club during the first year of Freshers’, I didn’t live on campus which is one of the reasons I tried to join as many societies as I could. I was a little worried about joining because I didn’t have any experience and I didn’t know anyone, but everyone whether that’s the existing rowers or the coach, have been so supportive.

At first, things started off gradually.  We practised on the rowing machine and then on a simulator before getting into a boat, so we knew how it all feels like. It’s so surprising but when you’re actually on the water, you’re a little cautious and scared, but after about five minutes, you’re catching the water together and turning the boats.

@UCLBC (Facebook)

A lot of people think that rowing will take up a lot of time, but it depends how seriously you want to row. If you want to row socially then you can just come whenever you can, or if you’re doing it seriously then you have the option to come up to three times a week. We have two Welfare Officers and they’re great at looking out for everyone. They also organise seminars and talks on managing time better. And, of course, in terms of employment prospects, a lot of employers appreciate it if you’re a member of a club or society, as it’s one indicator that you can manage your time well.

 I thought, why not I give it a go

I started my time as a rower, but around this time last year, I thought why not I give it a go with coxing and I really like it! I’ve been to a lot of competitions and travelled a lot. For BUCS Regatta, we went to Portugal and it was one of my most memorable experiences. Although it was ten days of intense training, it was such an amazing bonding experience. During those ten days, I made some of my best friends from the club.

@UCLboatclub (Instagram)

@UCLboatclub (Instagram)

Apart from training, there’s a lot of bonding sessions as well – we have a lot of socials. They’re not just bar events but things like carb loading days (we load up on carbs before big rowing events), which are really fun to do together. We’ve also got events where we just play board games and talk, so it’s a mixed bag.

It’s all about people

Through the club, I really got to know people I never would have known. I really appreciate the fact that I can travel the country and join this family. It really is like a family. I’ve made so many friends from the Boat Club and a lot of people have such strong bonds that they become flatmates with other people from the club! Our coaches never force us to do more rowing, with the main goal being always to enjoy the sport and have fun.

I can’t say it’s the easiest sport, but I’m so proud I’m a part of the boat club.


If you’re interested in talking to the Boat Club, or any of our other sports clubs, then come along to the Get Active Fair. It’s never too late to start.