Rachel Aldridge 'incredibly surprised' to win Royal Navy Sportswoman of the Year

The 2022 Royal Navy Sportswoman of the Year Lieutenant Rachel Aldridge said she was "incredibly surprised" to have won the award against such strong competition in the category. 

The indoor rowing champion and multi-talented athlete won a gold and a bronze at the British indoor rowing championships and became the overall winner of the Global Indoor Rowing League. 

Having previously competed for the Royal Navy in other athletic disciplines, including track and field, cross country and road running, Lt Aldridge says that indoor rowing is probably where "my natural talent lies".

She said: "I think indoor rowing is where my natural talent lies having tried a long time at running, I eventually realised that I was just naturally not as good at it, so yes, very much indoor rowing."

Lt Aldridge juggles her training and her responsibilities in the Royal Navy with her full-time job as a doctor in the NHS. 

Based in Edinburgh, Lt Aldridge credits her coach, Paul Winton, for keeping her and the rest of the indoor rowing team "really engaged" when training remotely whilst also juggling her duties in the NHS. 

She said: "Paul Winton is an amazing coach which, when you are a doctor seconded to Edinburgh and quite remote from the Navy, has been incredibly useful and incredibly important to keeping me and the rest of the indoor rowing team really engaged, and, yes, all credit to Paul, he is absolutely amazing.

"You get used to training at all times of the day, I don't think Paul or anyone else would really approve if they knew my actual training schedule compared to what the paper says it should be.

"You kind of have to adapt a little bit to the nature of 12-hour shifts, sometimes long commutes when the NHS decides to second you to other hospitals and where you live, you just kind of relax and deal with it as it comes."

When asked what was next for her, Lt Aldridge pointed to rowing on the water as a potential future endeavour but believes she hasn't "quite peaked" in indoor rowing yet.

She said: "I would love to try my hand at rowing on the water. That would be a dream to actually see if rowing on the water could work out for me.

"But, in the meantime, I am still quite new to indoor rowing so I don't think I have quite peaked necessarily with where I could go with it," she added.