Monday, 20 May 2024


Girl on the River: An Interview with Patricia Carswell

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About ‘Girl on the River’

After 10 years of working as a commercial barrister, Patricia Carswell decided to completely change her career path and turn her hand to freelance journalism.

Since 2007 her talent for writing engaging, well-researched copy in her specialist subject areas of health, parenting, green living, and lifestyle has resulted in a number of features for the national press.

This includes the Daily Telegraph, Times Online, the Independent, and Women’s Fitness to name a few.

But in addition to being a freelance journalist, Patricia is also a keen rower, and since 2011 her site ‘Girl On The River’ has been a place to share her rowing experiences, fitness advice, and even interviews with world champion athletes.

Girl On The River has also been recognised in a number of award categories, including Rowing Blogger of the Year from Rowperfect UK, and a Finalist in the Wales Blog Awards 2014.

We were fortunate enough to be able to catch up with Patricia after she returned from a freestyle ski and snowboard event in Austria, and were able to ask a few questions about her experiences with rowing, blogging, and what the future holds for Girl on the River.

Q & A

USA Home Gym: How did you first get started with rowing?
Girl On The River: I did a bit of very unsuccessful rowing at university and then forgot all about it until I was much older. One of my kids took up rowing at school and it looked like fun, so when a friend invited me to her rowing club I jumped at the chance.

USA Home Gym: What made you decide to start a rowing blog?
Girl On The River: Mostly to stop boring my husband, who is a non-rower! I had so much to say on the subject that he suggested I start writing about it.

USA Home Gym: As the winner of numerous blogging awards and as a successful freelance journalist, is there any advice you could give to someone looking to start their own fitness blog?
Girl On The River: Write about what you love, even if it’s a bit niche. The passion will come through in your writing, you’ll never run out of material and you’ll enjoy the ride.

USA Home Gym: What’s the ratio like between your on-water and off-water rowing?
Girl On The River: That very much depends on the season. In the summer, when we have light evenings, we get out on the river as much as we can. In the winter, our evening training is done on rowing machines and the same goes for weekend training if conditions aren’t good. I much prefer being on the water, though!

USA Home Gym: Is there any one moment that’s really stuck out as being your most memorable experience on the river?
Girl On The River: It has to be my first win. I’d trained so hard, for such a long time, and had so many disappointments. Those all fell away when I finally won my first tankard. It’s one of my proudest possessions.

USA Home Gym: You recently got invited out to Nine Queens by GoPro for a female freestyle skiers and snowboarders event. Are there any other companies that you’d like to team up with in future?
Girl On The River: Great question! It made me realise that, unusually for a blogger, I don’t really have a brand wishlist. Having said that, I would love to work with JL Design and Crewroom, who make really beautiful, high quality rowing clothing. I’m also really looking forward to an upcoming collaboration with Rowing the World, who arrange rowing holidays in stunning places (we’re off to row on Lake Como in Italy).

USA Home Gym: I think it’s fair to say physical fitness is an important part of your life. How do you find a balance between rowing, cycling, circuit training, running, and other activities?
Girl On The River: Rowing comes first! I get out on the water as much as I can and anything else is just an add-on. I’ve recently resolved to take up a yoga class as I think that will be really great for my body, and I’m going to try to make that a regular fixture.

USA Home Gym: Do you have a favourite type of rowing workout for off-water training?
Girl On The River: I’m a bit of an extremist. I like the long, steady-state sessions and I like the short-and-sharp HIIT sessions. I’m not so keen on the stuff in the middle – I find the half hour sessions pretty unexciting.

Patricia Carswell Rowing

USA Home Gym: Towards the end of last year you had your first experience as a coxswain. Is coxing something that you would like to do more of in the future and how much did the advice stay in your mind once were actually on the water?
Girl On The River: I have discovered, to my surprise, that I enjoy coxing. It’s really satisfying coming up with ways to improve a crew’s performance and to boost their confidence and motivation, so I plan to continue doing a fair bit. And yes, coxing is really good for your rowing and vice versa. When I’m rowing I tend to keep my mind on what the coxswain is saying rather than self-coxing, but it has definitely improved my technique.

USA Home Gym: What’s the best way to keep yourself motivated about getting back on the water after sustaining an injury?
Girl On The River: I get restless when I can’t get out on the water, so that is the main motivation. I keep in touch with the club by coxing if I’m not fit to row, and that helps remind me how much I want to get better.

USA Home Gym: Would you like to see sports like rowing play a more prominent role in physical education?
Girl On The River: Yes, I really would. It’s such a great form of all-over exercise and can be life-changing for kids who aren’t good at ball sports. There are initiatives going on in some parts of the UK to get kids in deprived areas doing some indoor rowing and even getting them into boats, and it’s exciting to see their enthusiasm.

USA Home Gym: If you had the opportunity to row anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Girl On The River: I’m always thinking about this one! I have two destinations on my rowing bucket list. One is Dubai – you can row up the creek to a place where you can see flamingos – that would be really cool. The other is the Maldives. I’ve seen pictures of a rowing holiday there and it looked amazing.

Love rowing?

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Patricia Carswell for taking part in our interview, and look forward to seeing what exciting new developments are still to come in 2015.

Whether you have been rowing for many years or are considering taking up the sport, we would certainly recommend stopping by her blog, Girl on the River.

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