Two rowers from Enniskillen Royal Boat Club have set new Irish indoor records for half marathon distance, 21,097 metres.

18 year old Sam Balcombe broke the 17-18 age category record held by Patrick Aherne from Blackrock Rowing Club in a time of 1 hr 22 mins 16.7 sec during a Rowing Ireland Virtual Regatta over the weekend of May 2-4.

Sam said: “Training during lockdown has been incredibly different to what we were expecting from this season. The key thing for me was that once we knew most events were to be cancelled, I needed a goal for myself to keep motivated. Initially, I was training for fitness and not intending on using the rowing machine solely, instead focusing on bike and running but I knew I wanted to target one or two of the rowing records.

“I decided to do the half marathon as I was already aiming to cover a large distance across a three day period for the Rowing Ireland virtual regatta, and decided the record could be an achievable goal.

“It was mainly down to my fitness developed over the extended period of gym training due to the flooding of our stretch of water limiting our rowing, which helped me get through the 21097m distance and break the record. My plans are to aim for shorter distance records in the lightweight category once I turn 19, and then to hopefully break back into the Irish squad and compete as a lightweight internationally.”

16 year Lewis Nixon broke the 15-16 age category record set the previous day by James Murphy from St Joseph’s Rowing Club, Galway in a time of 1 hr 23 mins 37.8 secs.

Lewis commented: “Training in lockdown has been tough as there’s not the same motivation with all of the races cancelled. However, it gives me something to structure my day around and helps to pass the time.

I decided to attempt the record because it gave me a goal to work towards and something to focus my training on. It helped to boost my motivation and I knew I had nothing to lose by trying it.

Once we get back to training on the water my ambition is to race at Henley Royal Regatta while I’m still rowing at ERBC. I think it would be a great experience especially to spend it with people I have been friends with for so long. After my A levels I hope to go on to university to study either physiotherapy or medicine and continue my rowing career there.”

During the three days of the Virtual Regatta the rowers and coaches from ERBC rowed, cycled and ran almost 3.5 million metres amassing 22 medals for the Club. 16 year old Tim Murphy rowed an amazing 153km on the ergo over the three days.