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Edinburgh rower sees the Somerside at GB trials

15 November 2017
University of Edinburgh rower, India Somerside (l), is moving up the ranks of Scottish and British rowing.

University of Edinburgh rower, India Somerside (l), is moving up the ranks of Scottish and British rowing.

University of Edinburgh rowing scholar India Somerside proved she is coming of age after partnering Scottish Rowing teammate, Lauren Gray, to first place at this month’s GB Rowing Team 1st Assessment at Boston. 

The Edinburgh University Boat Club pair have been rowing together since the summer. And whilst Somerside is a lifelong rower and former member of Glasgow Schools Rowing Club, Gray was a complete novice when she arrived at Edinburgh University three years ago.

“Coming into this Lauren had never been to a GB trial before, I was one of the youngest people there and we hadn’t ever raced any of the rowers that we were up against,” admitted Somerside.

“So it was a real shock to win the trial and we couldn’t believe it.”

What a difference a year has made for 19-year-old Somerside who is supported by Winning Students, Scotland’s national sports scholarship programme for student athletes.

Having competed in the 2016 World Rowing Junior Championships she followed up last autumn by entering the GB senior trials for the first time.

Moving up an age group was a big step, perhaps too big at the time, and her experiences were mixed.  But a year of training, maturity and finding a great partner in Gray, have made a world of difference.

“Last year at trials was my first year and each trial I had a different partner. It was a great learning experience to see how things were at senior and under 23 level and get used to it,” explains Somerside.

“I know how to approach the trials now. I know what they want and we need to show what we can do on the water for them to consider bringing us to any seat racing or consider us for any crews.”

The pair are the latest revelations in a growing line of University of Edinburgh successes.  Sixteen Edinburgh students, almost five percent of the total athletes competing at last weekend’s trials.

There were also notable performances from other Winning Students athletes in Boston as Calum Irvine and Oli Wilkes (both University of Edinburgh) finished third in the Openweight Men’s Coxless Pair, whilst Edinburgh teammates, Matthew Curtis (fourth) and James Temple (fifth) featured in the top eight in the Lightweight Men’s Single Scull. Meanwhile, fellow Edinburgh scholar, Lucy Glover, placed fourth in the Openweight Women’s Single Scull.

For Somerside, the move from school to university programme a year ago has been an eye opener in the most positive sense.  It’s not simply a case of the coaching or the facilities being better, and there is no doubt that both are of the highest standards, but being around success and a winning environment is infectious.

“Watching how Edinburgh has brought on rowers in the lightweight programme, with two current students and a former athlete going to the senior Worlds this summer is really motivating for me,” continued Somerside.

“I’ve found the difference from the school programme to the university is huge. It took me a while to adapt and figure out how I was going to be able to cope with it and improve. But now I know how to work with the programme to get results, and the help of the coaches is fantastic.”

As a Winning Students scholar, Somerside receives funding support and academic flexibility to help her balance her studies with training and competing, which she says has been significant in her development.  

“Winning Students really helps and last year supported so much in paying for trips and other expenses and this year I wasn’t sure I would be supported which would have been a real issue as I’m not sure how I would have been able to afford the travelling. Being part of the programme is a game-changer because otherwise I would have had to find a part time job.

“I’ve not needed help yet (with university flexibility) but I know of people who have managed to get in touch with the university and Winning Students to explain the situation and get extra time if they are going to trials and have an essay or online test due. It’s really helpful having that support because everyone understands.”