Steve Trapmore looks to Cambridge's role of developing oarsmen
Light Blues can provide an international pathway
Go back through the years and in the immediate aftermath of an Olympics you would often find a smattering of oarsmen with Games experience in the Cambridge and Oxford ranks for the Boat Race.
It would tend to be athletes either retired or on a sabbatical year seeking to pursue their academic studies, that would bolster the depth of the squads.
But with the sport continuing to change and the nature of international rowing becoming more of a career, it has meant that only two athletes with Rio experience are in the squads this year – Michael DiSanto and Olivier Siegelaar for the Dark Blues.
It means though that the shape of the squads are about pathway and development, with perhaps an eye to future international success, particularly at Cambridge.
“It’s interesting if you look at the historical nature of the teams year on year,” said Cambridge head coach Steve Trapmore.
“Normally you would say post-Olympic year you would have international athletes who are either on their way to retirement or actually want to do something a little bit different in the first year of the Olympiad.
“Oxbridge seems to be a good option because it’s a good different experience. It’s challenging but it’s also academically really beneficial as well.
“From an international perspective, we don’t have any of that level guys on the team so we’ve got some really good senior guys and really good young ones that have come into the programme that have helped carry on the momentum that we had from last year.
“It’s just where the team is at really. You get a lot more career international athletes, I think. Particularly in the big teams, it’s more of a requirement for them to be full time, Olympiad round.
“If you get the right guy at the right time that’s fantastic. Ultimately it would be great to have the full internationals with that level of experience on the team, but actually we’ve got a really good bunch of guys who are aspiring to that level.”
Of course, one of the big boosts for Cambridge was going into this season on the back of victory in last year’s Boat Race.
While the athletes may have changed – with only two returning Blues in the first boat – the changes to the programme that bore fruit remain in place.
“We’re off the back of a winning year where we’ve actually looked quite hard at what we were doing, looked at the programme and made quite a few changes in terms of expectations, delivering and actually just training itself, and that yielded some really positive results,” said Trapmore.
“Obviously, the victory was the highlight of that but the steps through the programme were very encouraging and we’ve carried that on through this year as well.
“We’ve changed a few things because it is a new year and you have different athletes.
“Older athletes with more training experience but we also have some younger athletes with not that much training experience so we have to balance out how far you are able to push, when, and who can manage what level of training.
“You have to make sure everybody is optimised in terms of their development and the steps they make through the programme to give the individuals the best possible opportunity for selection.”
Cambridge’s latest phase in their preparations was two pieces of work against the Italy national crew.
They lost the first piece, but won the second by four lengths.