Rower Kristen Froude's on the prowl for medal
One day, Southland's Kristen Froude hopes to work alongside Africa's big cats but, for now, she's more than happy training alongside the big dogs of New Zealand rowing.
Froude, 19, won bronze in the women's four at the world under-23 championships in Austria last year but has since converted to the quad at the national training base at Cambridge.
She's also in the first year of a bachelor of science, majoring in zoology, through Massey University.
"When I was younger, I really wanted to be a vet but that's not really realistic with what I'm doing at the moment, so I thought the next-best thing was zookeeping. I've always loved animals and being around them," Froude said.
"I want to work with the big cats, the tigers and things, that would be really cool."
Froude's switch to the quad for this year's under-23 championships in Varese, Italy, in late July has meant some big changes, including adjusting her technique from sweeps to sculls.
"Going from the four to a quad means a lot more kilometres, a lot more time on the water," Froude said.
"It's a big difference. You have two oars to hold, instead of one, you usually rate a lot higher and you go a lot faster, so the race is over a lot quicker."
The New Zealand women's quad will be aiming for a podium in Italy.
The James Coote-coached team finished fifth last year, but has new personnel in the boat, including Froude.
Three times a week, Froude puts in morning and afternoon training sessions, while Tuesdays and Thursdays also include a gym workout sandwiched between sessions on the water.
It's a gruelling programme in which the boat can cover more than 20km in an afternoon session.
"It's very challenging, some days you come home all wet and cold and want to have a nap, but you've got to sit there and study."
Froude, however, never has to look far for motivation - not with Olympic gold medallists sharing the water at Lake Karapiro.
"It's very cool. You hop on the water and look across and there's Eric Murray and Hamish Bond. We were actually pacing Mahe [Drysdale] the other day in doubles and that was really cool. He gets off the water - and we'd got a little bit thrashed by him - and he was teasing us about it. We can joke around with them, they are really laid back, but it's really inspiring."
The Southland Times