Wellington College Year 13 student Maxim Ericson is fast making a name for himself in rowing circles. He competed in the men’s quad at the U19 World Rowing Championships in Paris a few months ago; he has won male Rower of the Year at the College Sport Wellington Awards; and has just been offered a place at Stanford University for 2024.
But rowing is only one part of Maxim’s life, and finding time for other activities and interests is really important.
“The year that I really focused on rowing (over the ‘21-22 season) I managed drop a bunch of time off my erg and win my first medal at Maadi, but it really burnt me out and I came out of the season intending to quit rowing.
“I managed to achieve as much, if not more, success in the ‘22-23 season by taking a break over the winter to really focus on things like art and music that make me happy outside of rowing.
“Being able to race at Maadi this year knowing that regardless of whether I came first or last I was off to Tauranga immediately afterwards to play trombone really took the pressure off for me. That season really proved to me that rowing doesn't have to take over your life for you to be successful.”
Maxim at the 2023 Aon Maadi Regatta after coming second in the U18 Boys Singles Sculls. Photo: Picture Show Ltd.
So how does Maxim juggle all these interests? Here’s what a typical week looks like for him.
I train at Les Mills every morning of the week with a plan made by Baxter Brow. He was my personal trainer during the off season for the past two rowing seasons and has been a key part of my success. Although he's moved online with his clients I'm still working with him closely.
- Lunch at Havana
Havana Coffee Works is a café and coffee roaster a ten minute walk from my school. It's a really creative space for me where I've written multiple short stories (three of them being recognised in the Katherine Mansfield short story competition). I’ve also painted a few watercolours there and regularly go there to draw. I tend to go there most days during my lunch hour or during my study. It's one of my favourite spots in Wellington.
- Trombone lesson
Music is a big part of my life. I've been playing trombone since I picked it up in Year 3 in Australia and I really enjoy playing trombone in Wellington College’s Big Band with a really supportive group of guys and an amazing band leader in Liam Boyle.
- Scholarship English tutorial after school
Academics-wise, my favourite subjects are Maths and English. I'm planning to study Mathematics and Computer Science at university with hopefully a bit of Creative Writing on the side.
Maxim and his parents at the awards evening for the Katherine Mansfield Short Story Competition.
I sang in a choir this year for the first time, although my involvement in the group was interrupted by the World Juniors campaign. I'm new to singing so it wasn't as easy to catch up for me as it was in Big Band, but it’s something I’m keen to keep going with.
- Dinner at my grandma’s
My grandparents are a huge part of my life and spending time with them is a constant in my week. We eat meals with them twice a week and they're always behind me in every new thing I do and they always celebrate successes with me.
I'm starting a club season at Star Boating Club this year. I have thoroughly enjoyed sculling for the past four seasons, but the main focus for me over the next year will be learning to sweep. I’ve done essentially no sweeping during my time rowing for Wellington College, and that’s going to be a big part of rowing at Stanford next year.
- Scholarship Religious Studies tutorial after school
I'll be training all the way through until next August or September when I'll leave New Zealand to study in the US. As far as my training goes, I’m looking slightly further ahead – I want to be at my best for the IRA (the main US university regatta) in 2025, and in the three years after that.
- Big Band
The Wellington College Big Band was my first extra-curricular at high school, and when I started in the band in 2019 I was the only year 9 in the group. Over the years we've played a quite a range of music. Our bandleader has picked out gospel, swing, and funk charts as well as the occasional dubious Dave Dobbyn arrangement. Each year the pinnacle event is the National Youth Jazz Competition in Tauranga. I can't remember if we were awarded a gold, a silver, or a bronze award in 2019 at Tauranga, but I still remember the feeling of playing ‘Birdland’ on that stage like it was yesterday.
Maxim (centre) performing with the Wellington College Big Band in Tauranga in 2022.
- Afternoon off
As well as training in the morning and lunch at Havana, I usually spend Friday afternoons either studying or on creative stuff. My mum was studying for a Masters in Creative Writing in Sydney before we moved to Singapore, and Dad was in a band in high school in Dunedin and did an audio engineering course so a lot of the things I love have been passed down to me from them.
I’m not too fussed about my results at Nationals this year. It will be my first time at the regatta and I’m hoping to row the pair with one of my best friends. I’ll also potentially be rowing in a four, a quad and a double, but that is all TBC.
- Dinner is nachos that my dad makes every week with my grandparents, and then a movie with my family.
- Either the morning off or church
Church and Religious Studies are really important for me. My great-grandpa Lloyd Geering was a theologian, so taking RS this year has been a way to connect with the ideas and the topics he studied. I was raised going to church every Sunday in Sydney until we moved to Singapore when I was 12. We don't go as much as a family anymore, but I find the church to be quite a peaceful place.
- Afternoon training and study
Maxim's watercolour of a building he saw in Paris while competing at the World U19 Championships this year.
Andrew Smith is a keen Masters rower based in Wellington. A member of Wellington Rowing Club off and on since 2000, he spends more time on the erg than the water, trying to convince himself he's still young.