Imi Ratcliffe Rows Her Way to Berkeley


By: Erin Lynch ’18 and Alexandra Sprouls ’19

Imi Ratcliffe ’17, member of Saugatuck’s open weight varsity eight boat, recently committed to UC Berkeley after years of training.

Ratcliffe starting rowing in London on the River Thames at around age 10 or 11. At this early age, getting committed was always a part of the picture. “Recruiting for college has always been a main motivation for me, even when I lived in England I knew that I would have a lot more opportunities university wise if I stayed with it and it has finally payed off,” Ratcliffe said.

Ratcliffe’s previous boats have been largely successful, her past achievements include winning nationals in the lightweight 8+ in 2015 and winning nationals in the open weight 8+ in 2016, so starting over and rowing with a new team poses a challenge, “It will be weird because Saugatuck has a different rowing style than a lot of clubs. It will definitely be a big change, and I’ll miss my friends from Saugatuck,” Ratcliffe ’17 said.

Despite the challenge, Ratcliffe seems to be up to it. She is looking forward to the change, and is excited to see what everyone else from Saugatuck will do in the future.

With a rowing background in her family, it seems only fitting that Ratcliffe would follow in her family’s footsteps. Her older sister committed to University of Connecticut for rowing and Ratcliffe’s dad rowed at University of British Columbia and well into his adult life.

“I basically grew up at my dad’s rowing club in England,” Ratcliffe said, so going off to college will be a big change. She has had her parents around her and her rowing career for her whole life.

If being across the country was not already far enough, Ratcliffe’s parents are actually headed to a different country. “It’s going to be more difficult because my parents are moving to Paris once I graduate so that’s going to be a long plane ride,” Ratcliffe explained.

Even though it may be difficult for Ratcliffe to visit her parents on a regular basis, she will be able to spend more time with some of her relatives that live on the West Coast.

Although a clearly successful rower now, Ratcliffe almost ended her rowing career Freshman year to play lacrosse, and has previously played field hockey and soccer in England.

At the moment, Ratcliffe does not plan on rowing post college, but is reconsidering based on her commitment at Berkeley. The school prides itself on winning the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), which is the collegiate nationals, just this past year.

“I’m excited to be in California and to go to UC Berkeley but the downside is I’ll be really far from my family living in Paris,” Ratcliffe ’17 said.