A group of rowers from Newhaven will be competing at the Gig Rowing World Championships starting next week.
Nicola Tweedie, a coach at the club, said: "I couldn't be any prouder of them. They have all done an amazing job.
"Some of them had never been to a gym before they joined are club and there are others who had never participated in a team sport. These are people who have had personal successes all along the way with us. So really, the race is just the icing on the cake.”
Gig Rowing is the racing of a six-oared rowing boat, clinker-built of Cornish narrow-leaf elm, 32 feet (9.8 m) long with a beam of 4 feet 10 inches (1.47 m).
The Affinity Club started in January 2020 and will be entering crews into three races - The Men's Vets (40+) and the Men's and Women's Open Crew event.
The crews, ranging in age from 37 to 70, have been training three times a week for over two years. For many of them, it will be their first competitive rowing race when they take to the water on April 29.
Nicola said: “It’s been an enormous undertaking for all of them. They have had to train through lockdowns and none of them are elite athletes. But they have all got really fit and have had personal successes all along the way.
"We have had such an amazing journey together, getting to know each other and supporting people.”
More than 100 boats from 70 different teams from around the world will be competing at this year's event.
The first race for each event will see every boat row 3.2Km. From there, the boats will be seeded into groups of 10-12, which will race against each other for the rest of the championships.
Nicola said: “I’ve done quite a lot of rowing in my life for lots of different boats. But this race is just outstanding. To see over a 100 boats in a line and some of the best of the best competing, it is just a phenomenal sight.
“We haven't been able to do any races before because of Covid cancelling most of them, so it will be a massive test for us. Whatever happens, I'm really proud of them all and honoured that I've been able to be involved and write their program and support them to develop their skills."
More than half the Affinity Rowing Club will be going out to compete next week, but Nicola says racing is only a small part of the club offers.
She said: “Racing is only a part of what we do. We have got various different groups within the club, so it’s not all competitive rowing by any means.
"Everybody mixes in and does stuff together. We are just a very ordinary, little community club. We are not people who select elite athletes. We don’t advertise. It’s come from people really enjoying rowing together and wanting a kind of personal goal to aim for. There are lots of opportunities for everyone to get on the water and row.”
Affinity Rowing Club's World Championship crews
Mens crew: Rhys Jones, Adam Haigh, Richard Taylor, James Trebble, Oli Cash, Conrad Levy, Will Boden, Nick Maher
Womens crew: Liv McGuckian, Kelly Haigh, Jane Mitchell, Tina Warren, Lou Taylor, Cat Cridland
Coxes: Austin Warren, Nicola Tweedie
To find out more about what Affinity Rowing Club offers click here