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Young relay rowers at Deal Rowing Club are now record-breakers

By Eleanor Perkins

While most teenagers spent their half-term topping up on sleep, youngsters at Deal Rowing Club were smashing records.

Victoria Ward, 17, Emma Boccolini, 16, and Megan Tribe, 16, deprived themselves of sleep in a rowing machine relay that lasted 84 hours, 10 minutes and 25 seconds.

Starting at 8am on Friday, October 20, and finishing at 8.10pm on Monday, October 23, they broke the previous record – recognised by rowing machine manufacturer Concept2 – set by a group of Americans by two hours.

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Victoria Ward, 17, Emma Boccolini, 16, and Megan Tribe, 16, broke a indoor rowing world record
Victoria Ward, 17, Emma Boccolini, 16, and Megan Tribe, 16, broke a indoor rowing world record

They covered 318 miles – the equivalent of rowing from Deal to Land’s End – at the club in The Marina.

Victoria, who attends Goodwin Academy in Deal, said: “I’ve never felt pain like it, especially during the night-time row because there weren’t very many people around to talk to or keep you going and your body was just telling you to go to sleep.”

Emma said: “When we stopped to go to sleep, you still felt like you were doing it.”

The girls took it in turns, rowing anything from half an hour to three and a half hours at a time.

They slept on airbeds upstairs in the club’s bar and survived on water and Dioralyte to keep them hydrated.

The rowers raised £1,750 for Cancer Research
The rowers raised £1,750 for Cancer Research

Megan’s mum, Karen Tribe, was among those who were on hand for moral support. She made them a dinner of rice and bolognese.

They also had a large projector in the room, allowing them to watch motivational films such as Cool Runnings, Baywatch and Eddie the Eagle.

Megan said: “Even though we had memory foam to sit on, it really killed our glutes. It was the hardest four days of my life, but I’m so proud of us all.”

They say it wouldn’t have been possible without the support from club members, including chairman Justin Dodrill, who gave a congratulatory speech, and captain Steve Duncan.

But they were not the only ones to take on a challenge.

Tom Barwell, 18, and William Darlington, 21, were attempting the longest continuous row for their age group – 44 hours 30 minutes for Tom, and 52 hours for William.

Tom said: “We have always loved and enjoyed pushing ourselves and are constantly looking for new challenges, so we decided to create an event of our own.”

They named the event The Last Man Erging Challenge – rowing machines are also known as ergometers. Despite sterling attempts, they both called it a day after about 24 hours.

Tom said: “It was the sleep deprivation and the diet that we both found hard to deal with. Our bodies just gave up.”

They were allowed only 10 minutes off the machine every hour in which they had to find time to eat, sleep, use the toilet and stretch.

William Darlington, 21, and Tom Barwell, 18, set the challenge up
William Darlington, 21, and Tom Barwell, 18, set the challenge up

Tom still managed to set a new British record at 24 hours and 15 minutes. This comes after he broke another British record, in March, for the fastest 5,000 metres on a rowing machine.

The group were rowing in memory of Tom’s uncle, Dennis Crabtree, from Preston, who died from cancer in April this year.

They have so far raised £1,750, with £1,400 going to Cancer Research and £350 to the club.

Tom said: “The is not only a sports club but a second family upon whom we can always rely for support in difficult times as well as during the good ones.

“My uncle was always an inspirational and key figure in my life, and he couldn’t have been prouder when I became a British champion.

“He had a long and difficult fight with cancer, and continued to combat it until April when he passed away. He will definitely never be forgotten.”

They have sent off their log card from the rowing machine and book to Concept2 for verification and will soon be awarded certificates for their efforts.

The plan is to make it an annual contest open to the public.

The group can still be sponsored at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lastmanergingchallenge

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