LIFE on the water is getting better all the time for a talented Ponteland teenager.
Bridget Stratford has made a big impression on the sport of rowing in 2012. Together with her double sculls partner, Ellie Dobson, she came second in the National Championships for her age group at the Holme Pierrepont National Watersports Centre near Nottingham and they have performed well in other events.
And she recently received her first senior call-up for the Tyne Rowing Club as she will be competing with the first eight in the Women’s Head of the River Race, which will take place on the Tideway of the River Thames, London, in March.
The Year 12 student at Ponteland High School is delighted with the progress she has made since taking up the sport three years ago.
She said: “It all began when my younger brother, Owen, was doing an indoor rowing course at Ponteland Middle School, which was organised by Tyne Rowing Club.
“He really enjoyed it and said I should go along to an outdoor session, which I did. I discovered that I liked rowing and after a few visits I knew that wanted to go regularly.
“After about a year I started taking part in competitions within the club and against others. It’s a lot of fun because you get to race in singles, doubles and quads.
“Our coach decided to put me and Ellie in a double scull and we did well straightaway. We represented Northumberland in the inter-regionals and came fourth, although it was done on earlier races because the final was cancelled due to high winds, and you can race for your club in the National Schools competition so we took part in that and finished fifth.
“The amount of time we spent together training and taking part in these competitions really helped to develop our partnership and it paid off at the National Championships in July.
“It was a great race and there were only a few seconds between first, second and third, so we didn’t know our final position until we had stopped. It was a fantastic feeling to get the silver medal in front of family and friends from the club.
“It was my 16th birthday a few days before the event and I got new blades as a present, which I used for the first time at the competition.
“I’m really excited about representing the senior section of the club for the first time in March.”
Earlier this winter, Bridget was only two seconds away from qualifying for the first stage of the Great Britain trials for indoor rowing.
She is usually at the club, which is based in Newburn, for water and land-based training six days a week. She also has a rowing machine at home and goes running and swimming to help maintain her fitness.
“Rowing is also useful during exam season because it gives my brain a break from the stress of revision,” she added.