DCU student Claire Feerick deferred her third year of college to focus on preparing for qualifiers for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The sports science student said it was a difficult decision to make, but she feels it was the right choice.
“I’ve spoken to everyone and I’ve asked peoples opinions and they’ve literally all just said “you have nothing to lose, just go for it.”
Feerick moved to Cork last Friday, where she is training full time for the Olympic qualifiers at the end of April. Claire will head to training camps abroad every month, often travelling back and forth from Italy.
In July, Feerick and her teammates won a silver medal at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Florida. They were the first Irish women’s crew in a sweep event to take a medal at a world championship.
“I didn’t actually know until we came home that we were the first ones to do it. It’s a good feeling to know that we’re part of the history in Irish rowing.”
“The US was an amazing experience and it was my number one goal this time last year.” she said.
Feerick said that her training routine is quite intense and requires dedication. When she was in college, she’d train at 6am in the morning, go into college for lectures and then head to her club, Neptune, at Islandbridge in Dublin for more training.
Feerick joined a rowing summer camp at Neptune in 2012, and joined the club the following year. She was a horse rider for several years, but decided she wanted to try something different.
“During the camp I was the only one not to fall out of the boat. That was like a challenge in itself, to not fall out of the boat. I just enjoyed it so much.”
Feerick said that the success of the women’s rowers has inspired girls to get involved in the sport.
“I’ve had people as young as 13 or 12 years of age and they’re all girls and they just love me being around because I’m an inspiration to them and I’ve had them come up to me and say “you’re amazing, I want to be like you”, she said. “ Even just hearing that gives me that sense of pride that I and everyone else on Rowing Ireland’s women’s team is doing something for all the women back here. We need an equal playing field.”
Feerick was involved in the Get Going Get Rowing campaign, where indoor rowing machines are brought into secondary schools. Two weeks ago Feerick visited her secondary school, where she said the students were inspired to see a past pupil doing so well.
Feerick said that with time, DCU rowing club will be able to compete with the likes of Trinity and UCD.
“I know DCU’s rowing is not as well formed as Trinity and UCD, they’re huge in their rowing, but I think with time we could hopefully be up with them. Even the year I was there our novice squads were beating the likes of Trinity and UCD.”
Image Credit: World Rowing