KNUTSFORD children are benefiting from a rowing programme that is changing lives.

A fresh crop of youngsters at Knutsford Academy will get the chance to fall in love with the sport and their newfound personal qualities this September.

Rachael Ince, coordinator of PE at the school, has witnessed over the past 12 months a transformation in students who would not ordinarily have the opportunity to get their hands on the oars.

"Year 8 students at Knutsford Academy have been involved in a new programme with Northwich Rowing Club," said Rachael.

"Based on the success of Warrington Youth Rowing, a group of students embarked on the Northwich Youth Rowing programme.

"Squeals of fear as the boat rocked and being tethered to the riverbank by a long rope developed over the year to students rowing three miles in every session.

"The students have developed their self-confidence, determination, effort and fitness levels." Unfortunately, a regatta scheduled for July against 20 other schools across Warrington and Liverpool had to be cancelled but each crew recorded a relay time on a rowing machine instead.

"The Knutsford girls squad received bronze medals with the third fastest time," said Rachael.

"However, the whole squad were presented with the Roger Chicken Memorial Trophy as the best overall school.

"As a keen rower I have been delighted to see the progress of all the students."

The journey will not end there for a number of the youngsters who gave the sport a try for the first time.

"Some of the students have completely fallen in love with rowing and have joined the club so that they can continue with the sport," said Rachael.

"I am really looking forward to September when I will be taking a new group of year 8s to start their new rowing journey."