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The GB Rowing Team is the high performance arm of British Rowing. Rowing is the nation’s most continuously successful Olympic sport, having won a gold medal in every Olympic Games since 1984, and has won six Paralympic golds since the sport was introduced to the Paralympic Games programme in 2008.
GB Rowing Team
Rower // Women's Squad Date of Birth: 5th Jun 1988 (33 years old)
Club: Edinburgh University BC Height: 185cm Hometown: Edinburgh
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Polly Swann has been crowned as World and European Champion during her GB Rowing Team career.
In 2016, she became an Olympic silver medallist as part of the women’s eight at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
After taking a break to complete her medical degree, Polly returned to the GB squad in 2019 and claimed a bronze medal in the women’s pair alongside Holly Hill.
A former World and reigning European Champion, Polly marked her Olympic debut by winning silver with the women's eight in Rio
©Peter Spurrier/Intersport Images
Olympic Silver Medalist Women's Eight
European Champion Women's Eight
European Champion Women's Pair
World Champion Women's Pair
Polly returned from injury at the start of the 2016 season and, after finishing runner-up in the women’s pair with Jess Eddie at the GB Rowing Team Trials, was selected in the women’s eight. She helped to secure an eye-catching gold at the European Championships in Brandenburg, with GB surging through to take the victory in a perfectly-judged race. Another thrilling late push at the Lucerne World Cup saw the GB eight go mighty close to overhauling the Olympic and World Champions from the United States and they won silver again at the World Cup in Poznan, this time behind New Zealand.
No British women’s eight had won an Olympic medal before but Polly and her crew-mates ended that wait at Rio 2016 as they took silver in a photo-finish after an epic race that featured another trademark surge through the field in the second half.
Polly started the Olympiad in the women’s pair with newly-crowned Olympic champion Helen Glover. They quickly forged a strong partnership and won World Cup gold in Sydney, Eton Dorney and Lucerne before claiming the World Championship title in convincing fashion in Chungju.
The 2014 season saw Polly win a superb European Championships gold with Helen in Belgrade before switching to the eight, where she won World Cup bronze in both Aiguebelette and Lucerne. The eight could not reproduce that fine form at the World Championships in Amsterdam, though, and had to settle for sixth place.
After winning gold medals at the European Universities Championships and Home International Regatta in 2009, Polly made her GB Rowing Team debut at the 2010 World U23 Championships in Brest. She finished just outside the medals in the women’s four, having won gold in that boat at the Amsterdam International Regatta and Henley Women’s Regatta.
Polly raced with the senior GB women’s eight at the 2011 Henley Royal Regatta, reaching the final of the Remenham Challenge Cup, and stayed in the boat for the European Championships in Plovdiv, finishing fourth.
Unfortunately, an injury ruled Polly out for the 2012 season.
Club: Edinburgh University BC
Boat: Women’s Squad
Coaches: Paul Thompson
Learnt to Row: George Heriot’s School
Original Club(s): George Heriot’s School BC
Original Coach(es): Jim Wilkinson, James Harris
Polly recently finished her medical degree (which took 13 years to complete). Her work and rowing schedules don’t leave her with a huge amount of free time, but in her year off after the 2016 Olympics she renovated her flat in Edinburgh which she described as ‘a bit of a love hate project’. On her to-do list currently is to learn how to play guitar, build her own house and to travel and experience different medical practice around the world.
At the start of Women's Sports Week 2016, we look back at 40 years of women's rowing in the Olympic Games plus milestone moments for GB at the Paralympics.
Rio 2016 Olympic heroes Heather Stanning and Katherine Grainger were honoured at the 2016 Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards in Edinburgh on Wednesday.
The GB eights brought the Rio 2016 Olympic regatta to a glorious conclusion as they won gold and silver in the space of 30 minutes on another truly Super Saturday.
The GB Rowing Team’s one gold, two silver and a bronze medal world cup performance in Switzerland today was somewhat undermined by illness.