Interview with Lightweight Rowing Champ: Brigid Kennedy

31 March 2022

Victory on The Thames for Peterhouse women as our very own Brigid Kennedy (matric. 2020) numbered among the winning Light Blue crew at the Lightweight Boat Race on Sunday 3rd March

With a winning margin of fifteen lengths, this was no close race for the lightweight crew who not only triumphed over Oxford but also set a new record on the Tideway of 19:59:53, beating the previous record of 23:24 set in 2020. We spoke to Brigid about her victory and what's next for the Peterhouse champ.

Why did you get into rowing?

I had a break from swimming and my mom signed me up for a learn-to-row programme. I fell in love with it and switched over to rowing a couple years later.

What is the thing you like most about it?

I love working with my team mates to improve every day plus the joy of being on the water. I grew up by the ocean and have always loved water sports.

What are you studying, and how do you balance this with your rowing?

I am working towards an MPhil in Medical Sciences (Psychiatry). I work in the Autism Research Centre and my project investigates COVID-19 outcomes among people with autism. Because I’m able to work remotely I’ve been able to balance studying with rowing fairly well this year.

Why did you pick Peterhouse?

The community! It’s been such a joy to make friends in Peterhouse and especially our MCR.

How has Covid affected rowing?

It’s led to far more rowing in small boats (which is actually quite fun) but has also led to some difficulties in training when cases pop up on the teams. I think on the whole we’ve handled it well and have done our best to limit cases on CUBC. 

What was the selection process for getting into the Light Blue boat?

I started this academic year on crutches after undergoing some pretty major surgery (my femurs were misaligned and had to be adjusted). CUBC was incredibly supportive of my rehabilitation process and gave me the time to work my way back safely. I began my rehab on the SkiErg then moved from the bike to sculling and finally to sweeping just before Christmas. I also had the support of Physioteq which was absolutely essential. Once I’d returned to rowing on the water I got to join the lightweight crew and had the most fun trialling with them over the spring.

Could you tell us a bit about how the race went and what was going on in the boat? How did you manage to beat Oxford?

Our boat was just so ecstatic to be working together. We were uncertain about how the race would play out but had absolute confidence in Amy (the Cox)'s strategy. Just after the start, Amy saw an opening to shut Oxford down and had us wind up again to move out into clear water. We all dug in and from there we were pushing for the course record (and to break 20 minutes). It was so, so fun.

How did it feel to win? What do you aspire to now you’ve reached such a level at rowing?

It was unbelievable. I’ve been rehabbing since July and wasn’t sure whether I’d make it to this starting line. Going through the finish line I had some happy tears and cannot wait to continue racing with this incredible squad.

Will you be racing at Mays?/What do you think are our odds of the women’s boat getting to Head of the River this year?

I would be delighted to join for Mays! I cannot wait to cheer on Peterhouse and watch all of our crews strive for Head of the River.

Anything else you would like to comment on?

Some thank yous! Thank you to Peterhouse for supporting my rowing, thank you to CUBC for this incredible opportunity, thank you to friends, family, and my crew for making this a reality.