Returning for Episode 11 after mistakenly declaring that Episode 10 was Episode 12 (hey, we’re rowers. We can only count in stroke rates and splits), Broken Oars Podcast is pleased, proud and excited to welcome its first Olympian: Jack Beaumont!
A current member of the GB National Squad, as well as the Captain of Leander, the world's oldest and most prestigious rowing club, Jack is an Olympian in his own right having made his Olympic bow in the quad at Rio 2016. Building on a sterling (and ongoing) club career with Maidenhead, Jack has progressed to become one of the UK's leading scullers, having won gold and bronze in the 2017 World Cup regattas and bronze at the European Rowing Championships before going on to take silver in the quad at the World Championships in the same year.
He’s also one of the nicest and most forthcoming individuals you could hope to meet in any walk of life, so when Jack agreed to come on (to our eternal surprise and his eternal credit), we settled down for a far-reaching and very enjoyable conversation about life, sport and rowing.
In this episode, which begins with us starting recording midway through a chat about his Olympian father, Peter, (Seoul '88 - Men's Eight), Jack talks about how being introduced to rowing and his early stop-start years where other pursuits were also allowed to play a role were crucial in allowing him to develop his love and feel for the sport at his own pace.
Framing a welcoming and supportive club structure as central to this, Jack outlined how Maidenhead provided a point of focus, release and enjoyment when he was growing up, and how he still returns there when his schedule allows.
Touching on the ways club and world-class start routes towards the GB Squad can respectively shape a rower's journey, Jack went on to discuss his role of Captain of Leander, exploding some of the commonly-held myths about the famed 'Pink Palace' to show it’s a welcoming club on many levels: most rowers would recognise the rowing set-up from their own clubs; and the club has evolved to accomodate many different types of members in a deliberate strategy to represent the diverse communities it is part of.
Jack even suggested that your hosts might get through the door if they applied.
(Although he was noticeably silent on how long we might stay through the door, however …).
In a world where sport and its elite practitioners seem ever-more professional, process-and-goal orientated and serious, we went on to talk about how to retain a sense of fun, enjoyment and sense of personal fulfilment when in engaging in sport.
Discussing these as vital in maintaining a healthy perspective given the demands on elite sportsmen and women, Jack talked about how the fun and excitement of his early years in the sport have remained a key part of his journey to the elite level - and his plans to go on a tour of the UK to tick off all of the regattas and heads he’s always wanted to do and his plan to scull the length of the Thames on his retirement from the squad.
Returning to the importance of British Rowing maintaining good, interconnected club structures and a positive and inclusive culture to ensure the long-term future of the sport from the grassroots to elite levels, the future of rowing as an Olympic sport came up, in which racing on rivers, Olympic bumps, mixed crews and other hobby-horses familiar to regular listeners to Broken Oars Podcast were taken out of the stables and given a run out again.
Surprisingly, Jack agreed with some of these ideas (we and he put it down to his strong roots at Maidenhead and having grown up rowing on rivers). Jack also agreed that more community overlap is needed so that the grassroots and national squads have more contact with each other.
Noting that he hoped that someone at British Rowing was listening to us (chance would be a fine thing!), an early podcast idea (that members of the national squad should have to do a certain amount of provincial heads and regattas each year) was given an airing. Jack said he'd happily turn up at an event and jump in someone else's boat for fun ...as long as displaced crew members then formed a scratch crew so they could still race.
Things got a bit out of control at that point, ending up with three of us agreeing to row together in a quad at Durham Regatta as soon as circumstances and Jack’s schedule allow.
All we need now is another rower to sign on ...
Our conversation with Jack was something of a gear change after our recent episodes with Tristan Mayglothing and Jennifer Sey, but the same key themes emerged. Fun, engagement and awareness are all intrinsic parts of a successful sporting culture and fulfilled sporting life, and Jack is the living embodiment of someone doing what they love in life - and where that can take you.
A wonderful and enlightening conversation ... with a wonderful guest.
And it's out just in time for the weekend!?
Bowside? Strokeside? Both of you holding ... each other under until the bubbles stop coming up.