Sam Champion & Swift Racing

Cambridge-based Sam Champion started rowing 3 years ago, at the age of 14, with Cambridge ’99 Rowing Club.  After a year of rowing for fun, Sam’s parents could see his potential, and they encouraged him to pursue the GB Rowing Team Start Programme.  Sam has been on the Programme ever since, and now aged 17, is winning races, setting records, and going through GB selection in his Swift Racing ‘Elite’ Scull, now based at Isle of Ely Rowing Club.


“I hadn’t done any competitive sport at all before I started sculling.  I liked running and cycling, but three years of sculling have changed all that” explained Sam.FullSizeRender2


Usually, parents are the ones who encourage their youngsters into sport, but Sam’s situation is quite the reverse – Sam’s success actually encouraged his Mum and Dad to start rowing just after he did!


When Sam joined Cambridge ’99s, there were lots of boats available, so he got to try and test a wide variety of shells. Sam felt that most of the boats and equipment available were of a similar standard, but found his Swift particularly easy to adjust in order to achieve his ideal catch and finish positions. “I found the Swift easier to row and more stable than all the others, and ultimately I preferred it,” he commented. “When I joined GB Start, I couldn’t really take the club boat with me – the programme only had one make of boat available. I then asked if I could use an alternative but, unknown to me, Cambridge ’99 had already arranged for me to have my own boat to use during the process. It was a Swift ‘Elite’ (Carbon/Kevlar shell) and I’ve used it for nearly two years now.  This is still my boat of choice to train, compete and trial in.”


Sam seems to have a mature head for a 17 year old who has only been rowing for 3 years.  At first he questioned whether he would be competitive in a Swift Racing scull.  He knew that many people learned to row in Swift Racing boats, so he sought their feedback. “I didn’t know of any international rowers who used them.  That was a concern.  I asked myself whether it was the right thing to do. Some boats can be absurdly expensive; at first I thought I should maybe consider that option, but now I’m convinced that it’s more about the rower than the boat.  If the boat is good enough, then that’s all you need, so I was comfortable with my choice.”FullSizeRender1


Sam’s Swift Racing ‘Elite’ scull has served him well on the GB Start Programme so far.  To date, he has made the Coupe De La Jeunesse Team. Sam has been in the GB Quad for his age group, and is progressing well.  In his Swift Racing single, he came fourth at the National Schools’ Regatta this year, and has set a few course records at Peterborough Spring and Summer Regattas.


“My main thought has been that the Swift boat has served me well so far, so why not also at elite level?  If something is good, why change a good thing?  A top brand reverse-wing full carbon boat may be great, but my Swift does it for me”.


“Personally, I like the wing riggers; they feel more solid.  You also feel more connected to the boat, so I guess a solid feel with little flex is my preferred style.  To me, colours and looks aren’t important – function and form are.  That said, the Swift boat looks great, and has a clean design.  Ideally, I’d like a reverse-wing rigger – it’s nice to sit in a boat and see nothing in front of you!” Maybe this could be Sam’s next boat as Swift also build reverse-wing rigger singles.


Sam seems to be a perfectionist and has let Swift know where he feels some improvements could be made to the fittings of the boat; the company are now taking on board this feedback as part of their ongoing product development programme. “Improvements aside, the hull is of a really, really good quality – value for money, and probably the best out there” said the 17 year old.


Swift Racing boats are distributed in the UK and Ireland by Rowing Centre UK, and the Swift ‘Elite’ 1x is available from just a little over £3,700.


Sam concluded that “the website is a really good place to order parts and accessories off.  Ultimately, Swift are good boats – that’s all I can say.”FullSizeRender


Sam will next be trialling in Boston in February 2016, and will also be seen in his Swift Racing ‘Elite’ 1x next April at Holme Pierrepont – trials which will determine the GB crews for his age-group for the rest of the season.  We certainly wish Sam all the best in his forthcoming competitions and selections.


Swift Racing Boats and Rowing Centre UK Ltd

Unit 1,  Hill Farm

Byslips Road






T: 01582 872338