A 37-year rowing tradition

Putney pupils enjoying rowing at every level - from being able to explore the sport and get in a boat for the first time in Year 7 to competing at GB trials in the Senior Crew, there really is something for everyone. They leave us with a deep rooted love of the sport and we continue to cheer them on and celebrate their achievements at the Boat Race, Indoor Worlds Rowing Championships and more. 

Rowing was introduced at Putney High School in 1984 when the pupils rowed out of Thames Rowing Club. Eleven years ago, Putney moved to row out of Barn Elms using the racks for the school’s boats. At this time, rowing was offered on an extra-curricular basis and the Club had only a handful of members.


From these modest beginnings 37 years ago, rowing is now a key part of Putney High School life and enjoys significant investment and support from the school, which is led by Headmistress Suzie Longstaff, herself an Olympic cox.

Six years ago Putney had approximately 90 girls rowing both competitively and on an extra-curricular basis. During this time, they were taught by one full-time and two part-time coaches.

In the Autumn of 2015, Putney High School moved into the current boathouse, our own exclusive facility, becoming the first girls’ school to have a boathouse on The Embankment.

Owing to the popularity of the sport, we continue to store boats and base the J14 and J15 rowing sessions at Barn Elms Boat Club. The school’s boathouse has additional boat storage facilities and is used primarily by senior pupils, although the integrated gym space is used by all pupils for land sessions.

We are among the ‘hub’ of Boat Clubs in London and have direct access to one of the best rivers in the UK.

With such a central location, we have high profile visibility to the numerous visitors and crews who race on the river each year, including those attending the Oxford vs Cambridge Boat Race in late Spring.

Within the boathouse, pupils have access to a bespoke training space with 22 ergos, two rowperfect machines and Olympic weights equipment. They also benefit from specific advice and training from a strength and conditioning coach.

Where are we now?

Rowing is part of the extra-curriculum programme from Year 8 and built into the curriculum from Year 9. Every girl in Year 9 gets the opportunity to row in the autumn or winter terms.

The Club currently has 146 members rowing at every level from beginner to elite level, with a range of sessions to accommodate all abilities and ambitions. To this end, there are five full-time coaches as well as one part-time coach. The Club also has support from sports psychologists and nutritionists.

For team building, developing leadership and sheer enjoyment, you can’t really beat rowing. The boathouse is allowing students to get fully immersed in the Putney community and from a fitness point of view, it is probably the most efficient exercise ever - great for core strength, improved cardiovascular function and increasing stamina

Ashley Carter
Head of Rowing

Putney crews are regular medal-winning finalists at the National Schools’ Regatta; achieving Gold, Silver and Bronze over the last four years with the J18 Four, J16 Four, J15 Eight and J18 Single. Likewise. In 2019 Putney saw success at Fours Head of the River with the Junior Quads securing a win.

The J16 and J18 crew won the Women’s Henley Regatta in 2017 and 2018 respectively, and three pupils have represented Great Britain at Junior level in 2016, 2018 and 2019.

Last season, we fielded our largest entry of athletes at the National Schools’ Regatta from Years 9 to 13. We were the only girls’ school in the country to enter four J14 octuples and they were highly competitive in their events. 2019 also saw us field our first competitive J18 First Eight, comprising girls from Year 11 to 13, and they laid down a benchmark earning a place in the Championship Final.

Hear what rowing is really like at Putney from Lucy Miles (class of 2019)

We run an annual Easter Training Camp; one for Year 9’s and another for Year 10 to 13 (travelling to various locations within the UK, Spain, Slovenia or Belgium). These are a key factor in the training calendar, helping to improve ‘racing speed’ for the summer.

Bi-annually, the Boat Club organises a Sixth Form tour to Boston, USA, coinciding with the Head of the Charles Competition in October. This also becomes an opportunity to explore some of the US Universities ahead of potential applications.

Our vision for the future

This is an exciting time for girls’ rowing in the UK. Testament to this is the decision to extend Henley Royal Regatta by one day to make way for a girls’ eight.

Our aim is to be one of the top girls’ schools for rowing in the UK. Our ambition is for success at every level at the biggest events in the rowing calendar. Alongside this, we aim to remain a happy, inclusive club, offering opportunity to all.

Rowing Legacy

Many Putney Alumnae continue to row at University and go on to compete at National and International Level

The Boat Race

A number of Putney Alumnae have competed in the Cambridge vs Oxford Boat Race

Emma Andrews

Class of 2016
Pembroke College, Cambridge

Emma Andrews rowed in the Cambridge Women’s Reserve (Blondie) in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Boat Races.

The Blondie crew was victorious in all of these races.

In 2017 they finished 13 lengths ahead of Osiris, in a time of 19 minutes, 6 seconds and then nine lengths ahead in a time of 19 minutes 45 seconds the following year.

In 2019 they won five lengths ahead with a time of 19 minutes 19 seconds.

Jo Heymann

Class of 2016
New College, Oxford

In March 2017, Jo earned her first call-up in the Oxford lightweight crew.

This year, Cambridge took home the winning title, finishing three lengths ahead of Oxford, in a time of 6 minutes, 45 seconds.

Iona Casley

Class of 2014
Gonville and Caius College, Oxford

In March 2017, Iona rowed for the Cambridge lightweight crew.

This year, Cambridge took home the winning title, finishing three lengths ahead of Oxford, in a time of 6 minutes, 45 seconds.

Aimee di Marco

Class of 1997

Aimee was in the winning Cambridge Blue Boat in 1999 before racing for the final time in 2000.

Angela Cameron

Class of 1954

Angela Cameron (née Twyford) was due to represent Cambridge in 1955 until the race was cancelled because Oxford could not raise an Eight.

Rowing at University

Some of our alumnae share their experiences and advice about studying at University and joining a Club below

Lucy Thomas

Class of 2019
Exeter University

Monthly Motivation: Lucy Thomas (class of 2019)

Due to the pandemic Lucy may not currently have the University social experience you imagine, however as EUBC Coxes Captain Lucy has got involved in Zoom exercise classes and even a virtual Christmas dinner!

What have you done since leaving Putney?
After leaving Putney I have gone to study History at Exeter University and I’m currently mid-way through my second year.

How did you find the University application process, and do you have any advice for those looking to apply for University?
I think all those that have had the fun experience of going through UCAS will know it can feel a bit tedious at times but persevere and make use of all the staff in the sixth form as the assistance they offer really does help.
For those looking to go to university I would have two pieces of advice. First really make sure you’re applying to a subject you’re passionate
about not one you think makes you look good- writing a personal statement about a subject you enjoy is far easier! Secondly as cliché as it
sounds you will end up in the right place in the end. When I first listed my universities, Exeter was my fourth choice however since making
a last-minute decision to put it as my firm choice, I haven’t looked back.

How has the pandemic impacted your University experience?
Sadly, like so many other university students my first year was cut short and I moved back to London in March where I did my first-year exams online. Since then, I’ve had my university experience move to online learning for my second year which has been a wholly different experience. My social life has also seen a drastic change with far more walks and coffees with friends than I would’ve foreseen my university experience involving.

What highs and lows have you experienced whilst studying remotely, and what advice would you have for those in a similar position?
Studying remotely was a real change last year and something I’m still now, 10 months in, getting used to. Having only 3 contact hours a week, one of the most important and challenging things I’ve found is getting myself into a routine. Creating a nice work environment and breaking my day up with exercise, chatting to friends and a LOT coffee breaks has really helped. It is definitely more difficult to keep myself motivated working remotely without the interaction of other students and my professors. Luckily the sixth form experience of extended periods of free study have really aided me in the independent learning that remote studying involves and the passion for history my sixth form teachers instilled in me means I am currently still really enjoying my time studying the subject.

Have you been involved in any virtual clubs or social activities at University?
Having loved my time rowing at Putney I jumped straight back into it here at Exeter before the rowing season, like all else, was unfortunately put on hold. Moving into my second academic year I ran for EUBC Coxes Captain and won, which without the confidence the incredible rowing team at Putney instilled at me I never would’ve felt able to do. Helping to run the boat club and train both new and experienced coxes during the uncertainty of the pandemic has, it’s safe to say, been challenging and involved a lot of Zoom exercise classes and even a Virtual Christmas Dinner. However, it’s been an invaluable life experience and helped me share some of the knowledge I learned over my 7 years with PHSBC and I can’t wait to get back out racing some of
my ex crew mates again.

Do you have any idea what you’d like to do after University?
Currently I plan to go on and undertake a Graduate Diploma in Law and become a solicitor as my work experience at Putney and role as PIE prefect allowed me to meet a number of high achieving women in that field and I’ve been incredibly drawn to the career since. However, due to the everchanging nature of the world currently I’m learning one of the most valuable assets Putney teaches its girls is flexibility and
the ability to adapt and overcome difficult situations which I’m sure entering the workforce post pandemic will be.


Read the original article here (February 2020)

Imy Bantick

Class of 2019
Bath University

Imy has taken on the world from the comfort of her own kitchen… winning Gold at the World Rowing Indoor Rowing Championships 2021.

Imy won the World Rowing Indoor Rowing Championships in the Lightweight Women’s Under 23 category, rowing 2 kilometres in a time of  7 minutes 22 seconds.

Before taking on the world, Imy had also won gold whilst representing Great Britain at the European Indoor Rowing Championships in the same category just a few weeks ago. Her achievements have been celebrated live on air during BBC Breakfast as well as on BBC Bristol.


Read the full article here

Asa Lofstedt

Class of 2016
Newcastle University

Alumnae advice about ‘Life After Putney’

Looking ahead to applying for Graduate Roles, what would you suggest?
Write down key things you have done at University and keep a collection of projects you have done. Lots of potential employers will ask for examples of attributes or possible work you have done, so having this on hand is very useful.
Write a CV and generic cover letter. This way you can keep adding any experience to your CV as you go and tailor you cover letter to the company you’re applying too. This saves a lot of time and makes the entire process much less daunting!

What about working over the summer holidays?
Don’t feel like you have a work every single summer, it is important to enjoy your time off. University summer holidays are long (three months!) so a couple of weeks working won’t take up lots of your time.

What about looking for internships?
Apply for as many internships as and when you can. I applied to my eventual employer four times before I was offered an internship.
Use your internship as an opportunity. Understand what working life is like and see if you want to work for that company. Most companies offer jobs off the back of internships (around 70%) so it’s good to get your foot in early.

How do you suggest preparing over the summer before University?
With your free summer before university starts, have a look at course reading lists for books they recommend. These can be found on university websites and are all quite similar!
Lots of universities have portals, so if you have any specific questions about university life and courses, there are dedicated people to help. For example, most Russel Groups are on the app “Unibuddy”.

How did you go about signing up to a sports club?
I was lucky coming from a sporting background so, in my case, joined the rowing club during preseason allowing me to visit the university beforehand but also meet some new people outside of my course. I’d strongly recommend contacting any sporting club you would want to be a part of before term starts.

Do you have any other tips?
Bring a doorstop! This shows that you are an open person and creates a welcoming atmosphere for you to meet your flat mates.
You will meet people from all walks of life, so be prepared and open to this change.
Studying an Engineering course, I found it particularly helpful to bring my A-Level Maths work with me as quite a lot of my first term was around similar things and having my notes saved me a lot of time. This is the same for any similar subject area.

Read the full article here (April 2020)

Emma Andrews

Class of 2016
Cambridge University

Monthly Motivation: Emma Andrews (class of 2016)

Putney alumna Emma Andrews is training to represent the University of Cambridge on boat race day after earning a position in the prestigious Trial Eights, it was announced today (December 12). Emma, who left Putney in the summer, was named as a squad member of the Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club in November. Here she shares some insight into how she did it.

Immediately after finishing her A Levels, Emma was selected to represent Great Britain at ‘Coupe de la Jeunesse’, a European championship for junior rowers. Moreover, Emma was invited to captain the women’s team, giving her the accolade of being flag bearer at the opening ceremony in Poland. A month later, she returned from the competition with silver and gold medals, as well as the overall team trophy.

Emma’s success continued throughout the summer when she learned that she had achieved four A* grades in her A Levels and had secured a place to study Natural Sciences at Cambridge University. Maintaining her devotion to rowing, Emma arrived at Cambridge three weeks before her first term started to take part in the Cambridge University Women Boat Club (CUWBC) pre-season training. Putney encouraged Emma to stay involved in both science and sport which she believes is one of the reasons she “felt able to make the step up to University whilst still continuing to row at a high level.”

Most rowers at Cambridge will represent their college, while the University rowing team comprises of the elite rowers, many of whom, like Emma, are international athletes. After being selected for the CUWBC squad, competition becomes increasingly heated with final ‘Trial Eight’ athletes being chosen. The ‘Trial Eights’ race is designed to give squad members the closest possible rehearsal for the Boat Race and it is followed by an Umpire’s boat, exactly as it will on 2nd April next year.

So, how many hours of training does it take to secure your seat in the world-renowned boat race?
Whilst at Putney High School, Emma trained for at least 20 hours every week, six days a week. Now at Cambridge, she has continued her 6 day-a-week training schedule but has a few more early starts: three days a week she begins at 5am, attends lectures in the day and then continues to train in the evening. This is a necessity if you want to be part of the 163 year-old tradition. Emma reflects that “although training at Putney had been tough, this was another level: they treat us like full-time rowers.”

Nevertheless, she has quickly adjusted to being part of a bigger crew, and has come to love the positive atmosphere and team spirit they foster. She even admits that “having such supportive crewmates made getting up at 5am three days in a row almost seem bearable.”

Her advice to all current Putney High School pupils is to get involved with the extracurricular activities on offer and keep pursuing them at University level, even if at first it seems daunting. “It’s a great way to make new friends of all ages from different colleges, pushes you to improve, and breaks up the hours of work as well!”


(Spring 2017)

Sophia Margetts

Class of 2015
Bristol University

MonthlyMotivation: Sophia Margetts (class of 2015)

Sophia was always inclined to work in Law but her recent role as a paralegal has inspired her to start a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL).

What did you do at University?
After finishing school in 2015, I went straight to Bristol University to study English Literature, graduating with a First in 2018. Aside from studying, I was involved in a few societies; (Falstaff) English, the student newspaper (Epigram) and Rowing.

What was the Rowing Club like?
Brilliant. I was fortunate enough to be a Squad Captain in my second and third year. During this time, I worked towards improving the club’s performance and fundraising efforts.

Do you have a particular highlight?
I think it would have to be representing Bristol at the European Games
(EUSA), where my boat unexpectedly won Gold!

What have you gone on to do after University?
Although I loved Bristol (I often go back to visit my sister, Mia – class of
2018), after graduating I returned to London to begin my role as a
paralegal for didlaw.

What does your role as a paralegal involve?
I assist solicitors with their preparation for settlements and/or litigation. This may entail scanning documents, drafting witness statements, or even attending a conference to make notes on the firm’s behalf. I tend to spend a lot of time organising information, as well as proof reading settlements before they reach the clients. The hours are quite long but
the work is never repetitive and I enjoy the challenge of working to strict time limits.

When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in law?
I always knew that I wanted to go into Law; however, I initially thought I wanted to go to the bar and so I undertook work experience at several chambers. Although I enjoyed it – especially as I shadowed a deportation case against the Home Office – I found the life of a barrister to be generally, quite lonely. I also felt that my skillset – working in teams and writing essays – was better suited to being a solicitor. As such, in preparation, I began my job as a paralegal and applied to do a
GDL at BPP Waterloo.

How do you think Putney has helped you in the world of Law?
The career fairs and PIE talks were all useful in consolidating my inclination towards Law, yet I think, outside of that, it’s the Putney ethos – in essence, the emphasis placed on being spirited and critically astute – that best prepares you for a career in a fast-paced environment, such as the City.

What was it like applying for training contracts and work experience?
Law is notoriously competitive and as such, landing a training contract can be difficult. Although the process can be demoralising, it is important to use the setbacks as motivation for next time and to remain open-minded. Putney fosters self-belief, and that has enabled to me keep going, even as certain applications haven’t gone my way.

In light of this, what would you recommend to those thinking about applying or working in Law?
Firms will expect you to be academically strong, but having work experience is essential. I would recommend applying for vacation schemes as early as possible and to not limit yourself to the big firms. Whilst it is important to be ambitious and to strive for the best, you do not want to rule out work experience at a high-street firm that could give you an insight into legal procedure. In preparation for any work experience, I would read as much as possible about the firm – what cases are they working on and what are their expertise? It is important to demonstrate a commercial awareness; firms are in themselves businesses and so reading the Financial Times, knowing about key mergers and corporate restructures will give you the edge. Good Luck!


Read the original article here (September 2019)

It runs in the family

Angela who attended the school 1944-54 and her grand-daughter, Polly (Year 13), share their experiences of rowing ... both then and now

Absolutely Education


Read the full article ‘Making Waves’ here

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