Furnival Sculling Club

Furnivall Sculling ClubRowing club based in Hammersmith, London. Established 1896

How rowing helped me face my fear

Monday, 30th September 2019

Susie, one of our 2019 Learn to Row course graduates and new development squad captain, describes the huge positive change that rowing has made to her life:

"I used to be so envious of my friends at University that were part of the boat club, going on camps together, training together and winning together. Although, I must admit, I wasn’t so envious of them getting up at the crack of dawn to train in the winter months!

So, you must be thinking why didn’t I end up joining? Aside from being very unfit and having very little interest in sports I have never liked water. I hated the beach and even hated taking baths! This soon spiralled and I became more and more fearful of water as time went on. You may be thinking, ‘but you can swim...so what’s the problem?’ I suffer from anxiety and have done since I was a teenager, I have real difficulty in rationalising situations and often think the worst.

So, why did I decide to start rowing at the age of 27? Unfortunately, I have experienced quite a great deal of trauma in my life the past 2 years which has since made me realise that I can’t hold back: if I want to do something, I just need to go for it.

I spent a good few weeks researching rowing clubs in West London and before I knew it, I was there for a taster indoor session. Stage 1: check! To be honest, I couldn’t really focus on the technique as I was too busy looking out on the River Thames thinking, ‘What am I doing here!?’ Soon after, I found myself back at the club, ready for my first water session. I was absolutely terrified. I had at least 2 panic attacks that morning and couldn’t keep my food down.

The learn to row course lasted for 8 weeks, which meant 16 sessions out on the water. For your average watersports lover, it’s nothing but fantastic, but for me, I was thinking, ‘when is this going to end?’ Around about week 4, I was on the verge of quitting, as the voices inside my head were telling me that I couldn’t do it and I wasn’t good enough.. But I fought those voices and carried on and through some miracle, I completed the course, attended all sessions and ditched the life jacket!!! Oh, and I didn’t fall in.

Furnivall and its people have allowed me the opportunity to ‘re-brand’ myself and have been very supportive. For example during the course couldn’t get myself into an VIII. There was something about it that made me really anxious so they put me in a different boat, basically for the entirety of the course. Since then, I have been in an VIII, but I must admit, I do miss being in a quad from time to time!

I have now been with Furnviall for 4 months and I feel like a different person. I can go out on the water without a life jacket and am able to rationalise situations much more than I did a few months ago. I can even have a laugh with the rest of the crew if we get splashed by waves.

I am still fearful of the water and do still have panic attacks, but that’s ok as I am only human. Rowing has given me a sense of hope in life and have met some truly amazing people who have really helped and supported me on this journey. I am genuinely excited to row at the weekends and hate missing a session - it’s now a big part of my life!"

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