Olympian returns to rowing roots

Five times Olympic medal winner Dame Katherine Grainger has returned to her rowing roots to mark the 150th anniversary of Edinburgh University Boat Club.

Britain's most decorated female Olympian was guest of honour at a weekend of celebrations for the club where her rowing career began as an undergraduate in 1993.

Dame Katherine – who completed a law degree at Edinburgh and postgraduate qualifications in Glasgow and London – had never rowed before joining the Edinburgh club.

Polly Swann & Dame Katherine Grainger (credit: David Cheskin)
Polly Swann & Dame Katherine Grainger (credit: David Cheskin)

Five medals

Since then, she became the first British woman to win five medals in five successive Olympic Games, including a gold medal at London 2012.

This year she was named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list in recognition for outstanding services to rowing and charity.

Hall of Fame

Dame Katherine was one of the first sports stars to be inducted into the University of Edinburgh’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.

Also taking part in the celebrations was University of Edinburgh medical student and Boat Club member Polly Swann, who won a silver medal in the women's eight in Rio. 

I love coming back to Edinburgh to support the boat club. All of my best memories of the city are linked my time spent at the club. It kick started my rowing career. Everything that's happened to me in the past 20 years as a professional athlete stems from the amazing time I had here.

Dame Katherine Grainger


Dame Katherine is an incomparable talent and it has been wonderful to have her here to mark the Boat Club’s 150th anniversary. This weekend has been a great chance to celebrate the success of members and mark the Club’s fantastic progress over the last 150 years.

Jim Aitken MBEDirector of Sport and Exercise

Edinburgh University Boat Club is one of the biggest sports clubs on campus with 230 members. It is one of only a handful of clubs in the UK to host a High Performance Programme supported by British Rowing.

The programme was awarded in recognition of the club's excellent track record in nurturing world-class rowers.

First win

Last season, the club became the first Scottish university, and only the second crew from Scotland, to win an event at the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta when the Men’s Coxed Fours won the Prince Albert Challenge Cup  final 

The club plans to build on an expand on its success by opening a new Boat House at Strathclyde Park in Lanarkshire.