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How I got the urge to erg

After retiring, I swam and then heard about indoor rowing, though had no idea what that meant. I had rowed at college. In 2005 I tried a Concept2 rowing machines at my local gym – and was completely hooked!

Luckily for me somebody spotted that I was fast over all distances so, six months later I entered and won the 2000m distance in the 64-69 years lightweight (LWT) at the National Indoor Rowing Championships. My winning time won me the coveted trip to Boston CRASH-B Sprints. I trained hard throughout the hot summer in a neighbour’s farm tin shed as many gyms closed for the long holiday.

Boston in February was unforgettable; my first visit to the USA. My race was scheduled for 8 am.  I had hoped to perform close to my personal best, but was pleased with second place.

Back home, I continued to compete in swimming and indoor rowing at Masters Games throughout Australia and NZ, though rushing between venues on the same day sometimes caused me to miss rowing weigh-ins. I was often placed in the Open (Heavy) Weight class where I found far stronger competition, so remained in that class for a year. (This explains why some of my records were verified as LWT and some as HWT).

In 2007, I had hip trouble and was put on the waiting list for a hip replacement. The Australian Nationals loomed up again, and I decided to try once more to qualify for Boston.  I was again the most successful female qualifier, though the oldest in the 65-69 heavyweight category. (I still weighed under 58 kgs).

I was more prepared for this second trip to the USA and was relieved to win First place and the Hammer against 6 younger, heavier competitors at the 2008 CRASH-B Sprints.

With still no date for a new hip, I decided to take myself over to Birmingham, UK in 2009 and competed in the British Championships as a LWT in the 70-79 years category. I won my race in a new record time and, as a dual passport holder, qualified as the new British record for the 2000m.

13 years later, I still hold that record.

I continued to challenge myself in races and online rankings, though training for swimming and indoor rowing both proved solitary occupations. I attempt to offset this isolation and the inevitable decline that comes with ageing by attending group core strength, Pilates, and flexibility classes. Bushwalking and cycling have taken the place of swimming and have opened new worlds and knowledge.

Over the past two decades, I have been invited to mentor and coach people of all ages, experience, fitness levels and backgrounds in the benefits of indoor rowing, and still do, with great enjoyment.

As part of this year’s ANZAC Day Indoor Rowing Challenge, Anne Cresswell is aiming to set a new World Record in the Marathon of the 80-89 year Lightweight Division. You too can support active and veteran defence personnel by rowing 2504 metres, as many times as possible, at home on your indoor rowing machines. Click on the button below for more information.