An Interview with… Dom Jackson

Dom Jackson is a J18 rower at Hampton School, who has just recently managed to secure an ergo world record, for J18 lightweight 5K. After a great year last year that ended up with a medal at the Coupe de la Jeunesse, and this recent success, we caught up with Dom to find out more about his rowing career, and his now-famous ergo piece.

Dom, tell us a little about yourself. What got you into the sport?
I live in Kingston upon Thames and so from an early age I was messing about on the water in kayaks and other boats. I took part in the Great River Race a few times, with Leander Sea Scouts It was a great experience, and I guess it really set me on the path towards rowing. When I started rowing for Hampton, around 5 years ago, many of my peers were a lot taller than me and so subsequently I started off as a cox, subbing in for the occasional session in the C boat. I saw a big improvement in my performance at J16 level which resulted in a J16 B8+ win at The National School’s Regatta, the culmination of an awesome season. This was down to the amazing crew and coach, Nick Woods.

So, from humble beginnings, you are now a world record holder. Did you ever think you’d get to be in this position? How does it feel?
I am surprised at the amount of interest it has gathered and feel quite overwhelmed at other people’s reaction, as I didn’t realize it was even a possibility until my coach (Neil Double) spotted it and suggested that I tried for it as I already met the lightweight criteria. Obviously I’ve always had ambitions, but when I started I certainly never imagined that in a few years I’d have a world record!

Take us through the test. How did you pace it? What were your thoughts?
I didn’t sleep very well the night before as I was thinking about the ergo – I’m sure every rower knows that feeling. I was so tired in the morning that I slept through my alarm which meant I had a particularly fast bike ride to school in the morning, which wasn’t great for stress levels! The tension mounted throughout the day as my friends wished me luck for that evening. As I keyed the distance into the ergometer and roughly 15 of my mates assembled to cheer me on, I overheard the head coach (Colin Greenaway) asking the current J16 squad to keep the noise down which definitely added to the pressure! As I went off the start, I was keeping my eye on the projected finish and maintaining a solid steady pace with that time in mind. Every stoke counted and so any stroke that was not on track, I knew I had to make up for. At some points, despite the pain, I felt that I didn’t want to let the people cheering for me down and so pushed on. With 1km to go I realized I was only on track to equal the record so had to gun it. With lungs, legs and arms screaming I heard the call ‘yeah Deej’, which helped me over the line, although frankly the whole of the last 2000 metres was a real blur.

What’s next? Do you have any other records in your sights?
I am off to a GB trials this weekend and would love to row for GB again this summer, but I’m taking every day as it comes and working hard to achieve the day-to-day stuff. I guess it’s important not to get too hung up about the bigger picture, and just focus on improving little by little.

You’ve obviously had some amazing experiences in your rowing career – what’s been your favourite ever race?
My favorite race so far was when I competed at Coupe de la Jeunesse in Hungary, with great support from Ashley Carter ‘Dulwich’ and the rest of the team. The crew fought hard to get a bronze medal in the 4-. The competition was incredibly fierce, and every nation brought their own style to the racing. The Hungarians went out really hard and managed to get a lead over the field, and the French went with them, although we managed to reel them in through the middle of the race. They put in a huge push at the end, though, and edged us out by around a quarter of a second. From the outside I’m sure it was a very exciting race – pretty painful to be a part of it, though!

Do you have any advice for the next generation of rowers just coming into the sport?
I suppose the quote that I try and train by is: ‘the body achieves what the mind believes’. It might sound slightly cliched, but I can’t think of anything that better encapsulates our sport. Rowing is all about belief and mentality, and it’s the mental game that’s the difference between winning and losing.

Five Man

Five Man