Kate makes waves '¨as she rows blind
A Peterborough woman has achieved an oar-inspiring feat after learning to row single-handed - despite being unable to see.
Kate Lindgren (51) from Fletton started to go blind when she was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa when she was a teenager.
The condition - which has no cure - means she gradually started to lose her sight, and now Kate only has some light perception.
But after being passed by a team of rowers this year, just after her 50th birthday, Kate was inspired to take up the sport, and joined the Peterborough City Rowing Club.
She said: “One afternoon while out walking along the river with my daughter and guide dog, a rowing boat passed by with eight rowers, all older than myself.
“I wanted an activity which took place outdoors and hopefully all year round; little did I know then what I was letting myself in for.
“I contacted the club to see if they were happy to teach a blind person and one morning, I ended up at the club by myself and for the first time in many years minus a trusty guide dog or human guide.
“The group were so friendly and encouraging and the coaches made the experience of rowing fun and comfortable. I should add here that I am not a sporty person so anything too strenuous was not for me.
“However, you can learn at your own pace and to whatever fitness level you have.
“From going out in a double with a coach I learnt to master (still trying) the technique of sculling which involves two oars (or blades as those who are in the know call them).”
However, after sessions with team mates in multi-handed boats, Kate has now taken the remarkable step of going solo - using technology to communicate with her coach Pete Forrest on the river bank to help with directions and timing - she even said Pete had ‘the hard task’ as he had to cycle along the side of the rowing lake directing her, while avoiding pedestrians, cyclists and dog-walkers.
She said: “My coach is on the bank giving me instructions for navigation. We both have a mobile phone with a Bluetooth headset; although mine uses bone conduction technology. I can still hear all that is around me as the headset sits on my cheekbones and not in my ears.
“Even though I have Pete giving me instructions on steering my boat and how to improve my technique the feelings of independence and freedom I get from being on the water make me feel content and satisfied with life.
“I love the sense of freedom and independence I get from being in a single.
“It gives me the ability to focus on my rowing stroke and although I enjoy rowing in a crew it is the difference between working as a team and being solely reliant on myself to balance the boat and make it move through the water.”