Our class of 2021 really are something to shout about. They’ve overcome challenges, helped others, grasped opportunities and developed their skills, showing their Essex Spirit in so many ways. And they’ve done it all during a pandemic when student life has been changed beyond recognition. We couldn’t be prouder of them so we’re telling their stories.
Wed 14 Jul 21
Inspired by her dad and drawn by its gender equality, Charlotte Gowers knew from a young age she wanted to be a triathlete and now she’s working with a national youth forum inspiring others to join the sport.
“Growing up, my Dad was a runner and a triathlete and I always wanted to grow up to be just like him,” said Charlotte, who is graduating with a BSc Sport and Exercise Science. “It’s such a great and growing sport."
Charlotte switched to triathlon from club swimming at just eight years old and has been competing in the Eastern Region League ever since. She won the League in 2018 and 2019 and was crowned Eastern Region Sprint Champion.
As well as the opportunity to mix up training, she says triathlon has always appealed because of its gender equality: “Triathlon has always been a sport that has true gender equality. There are the same prizes, same distances and same courses for men and women.”
She hopes the future will see equal numbers of men and women competing, and she’s helping to achieve that goal through her role as Chair of the British Triathlon Youth Forum, which aims to get more children involved in the sport.
Charlotte’s role involves advising Triathlon England on how to engage young people and helping to run events which provide a fun environment in which children can have a go.
"Don't be shy, make the most of talking to new people and just have fun."
Despite the medals, she says her proudest moment was in 2016 when she received the Triathlon England Volunteer of the Year award for her work as a Level 2 triathlon coach: “I collected the National Award in Leeds at the annual British Triathlon awards evening alongside 2016 Paralympic and Olympic athletes which was a massive honour,” she said.
Drawn to Essex, her local university, in part because of facilities such as the Human Performance Unit (HPU), Charlotte has juggled a hectic training schedule to complete her degree: “My week would consist of a couple of swims, a couple of runs, a bike session mixed with a couple of gym sessions.”
She had been planning to start up a University triathlon team when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and plans to progress this initiative, which will provide greater campus support for budding triathletes, while she stays on at Essex for her Masters degree.
She says the hardest thing about studying during the pandemic has been the lack of contact with others: “I’m very much a people person and it was hard not being able to go into uni and get that in-person support from friends and lecturers.”
Charlotte, whose longer-term plans are to pursue a career supporting elite athletes, gained valuable practical skills when she completed a 20-week Frontrunners Plus placement in the HPU. Supporting sports scientists, she took gas and blood data and conducted a range of physiological tests using cutting-edge technical equipment.
Her advice to new students coming to Essex is: “Don’t be shy, make the most of talking to new people and just have fun. Make the most of networking and making connections that can lead to you getting a job at the end of your degree.”