PhD student Sarah preparing for round Britain solo row attempt

Roehampton PhD student Sarah Weldon is preparing to become the first person ever to row around Great Britain solo, and she will use her own body as a research tool during her arduous 14 week challenge.

Posted: 22 September 2014

image for news story PhD student Sarah preparing for round Britain solo row attempt
Sarah Weldon training for her row at the Unviersity's state-of-the-art sports science laboratories

Sarah 38, will begin her PhD, into the effects of calorific stress on neuropsychology of ocean rowers, this month. Her vessel will contain equipment to record blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, mental condition and other data to show how her body deals with rowing up to 15 hours a day and throughout the night in all conditions. Some of the equipment is used by Nasa on the International Space Station.

Her boat will be unveiled and named at the giant Technopop show at Stratford City in October. Sarah will launch from her home town of Henley-on-Thames in May 2015 and is due to finish there in September 2015 after having rowed around 3,000 nautical miles.

Sarah, who is nervous but “100 per cent confident” of completing the challenge will enter the Guinness Book of Records and should receive four world records for the journey. She will also raise funds to provide disadvantaged young people with access to education.

Sarah said: “The excitement is really building up now. It’s going to be a huge strain physically and psychologically, but I know at the end of it I’ll have completed an enormous challenge and created so much information to study how our bodies react to extreme pressures. That’s what got young people involved in the excitement of sports psychology as they’ll be able to follow the journey in real time.

“The journey around our coastline is going to be fascinating and I’ll be meeting schools and supporters on the way who will keep me fired up. The research I’ll do at Roehampton will directly make a difference to others living and working in remote environments, which I’m really proud to be doing. I’m looking forward to working with some of the most advanced researchers in the world to help shape my findings too; it will keep the row alive well after I’ve got out of the water and will be a legacy for the entire sport.”

Her Great British Viking Quest challenge aims to re-trace the oar strokes of Viking seafarers, to bring ocean literacy, environmental, and STEM (science, technology engineering and maths) education to life for students in London and worldwide.

Dr Caroline Ross, Head of the Department of Life Sciences at the University of Roehampton said: “Sarah’s ocean row proves research at Roehampton involves dealing with real-world environments as well as studying theory. This is an exciting project, and the whole university is right behind her and will be following her progress.

“Through our Sport and Exercise Research Centre we will be using state-of-the-art lab equipment to analyse her mental and physiological fitness before the row as a benchmark against the data she records on the water. When she returns that information will form the starting for what will be a significant study of how the body reacts to specific pressures.”

To read Sarah’s blog and find out how your school could work with Sarah, visit www.oceansproject.com

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