Teague Smith swaps an a sword for an oar to be Cambridge University Lightweight Rowing Club president
It is difficult to think of anything that can connect the sporting worlds of rowing and fencing.
One is on dry land, on your feet and one-to-one combat, the other is on the water, seated and, bar single sculls, is primarily team based.
Yet, in a roundabout way, the diametrically opposed activities eventually led to Teague Smith becoming the president of Cambridge University Lightweight Rowing Club.
“I was rowing when I was 13 on a whim because my friend wanted to start and he asked me if I wanted to go with him,” says the 23-year-old Girton College student.
“I wanted to do fencing and he wanted to do rowing, so we both joined both sports; I took to rowing and went from there.
“Since I applied to Cambridge I’ve always had the goal of rowing for Cambridge University as a lightweight.
“That was my aim as a fresher and it took me three years to get to a point where I could actually trial. I trialled in my third year for about six weeks, and then I trialled again last year and made it all the way to race against Oxford.”
It served as ample encouragement for Smith to run for election as president, a feat which he was successful in achieving.
Last year marked history as the Lightweight Men’s Boat Race was rowed on the Championship Course on the Tideway for the first time, and a first is in store again on March 15.
With the backing of a new sponsor, Interactive Investor, the Lightweight Women’s Boat Race will move to the Tideway on the same day as the lightweight men’s race.
“They [Interactive Investor] have really helped put things together, which has been fantastic so it’s always great to have a first of something like this and it’s great to be a part of it as well,” explains Smith.
“There have been lots of presidents before me and there will be many after, but there is something special about having that position in a year such as this. You feel like you can make a much bigger impact than perhaps you would otherwise, not to take away from other years.
“It’s something really special to be a part of and actively involved with, as opposed to having a more passive role if you didn’t have this position.”
Smith, who is one of what seems like many veterinary students who are either presidents or captains of university sports clubs, admits there is pressure to the role.
It requires the president to think of the greater good, the wellbeing of the squad, how they are progressing and that the right attitude and culture exists. And he has enjoyed the atmosphere at the Light Blues since the lightweight men and Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club joined forces.
He had a brief experience of the old trialling system, when they were two separate entities, but says: “It is just so much better, it’s so nice having a bigger squad, more friends and more people you’ve rowed and trained with.
“I love what I do and being able to share it with so many people. I think it’s been good for all the athletes as well because it’s just a better environment.
“You have people that are sharing your experiences but they are somewhat removed perhaps because they are not competing with you for a seat in the boat. It is really collaborative as it is just everybody working together to help each other.
“It’s busy and sometimes really chaotic but you love it as it’s just got a vibe to it.”
Although Smith’s days of wanting to fence may be long gone, he is looking forward to jousting with Oxford on the Tideway on March 15.
More by this authorMark Taylor