My Diary: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF KAJSA McLAREN; Just 4ft 10in Tall, Kajsa (Pronounced Kyser) McLaren Will Be Hoping to Steer Oxford to Victory in Today's University Boat Race. the Dark Blues' Cox Is Reading French and Spanish, and Is a Distant Relation to the McLaren Motor Racing Dynasty. Kajsa, 19, Whose Family Live near Oxford, Tells ANGELA HAGAN about Her Team's Hectic Preparation for This Traditional Event, First Held in 1877

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Iam the 11th woman to be a cox in this race. The first was Sue Brown in the 1980s. It is a prestigious position to be in and my parents are very proud. My dad, in particular, was over the moon. I first got into coxing when I was just 14 and I loved it straight away. I was boarding at King's School in Canterbury at the time and I was captain of boats. My interest in it sparked off my father's interest in rowing too. My parents have supported me a lot and often watched me coxing at regattas and events.

I'm trying to eat the bare minimum at the moment because I want to keep my weight down - the lighter I am, the less my boys have to carry. I'm down to about 7st 4lbs and I'm trying to lose a bit more.

I get up at about 7.15am and have breakfast which usually consists of a cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal. We're currently training six hours a day for two weeks in London, so we're all based at a house near Hammersmith Bridge. We get on to the water at about 8.45am and start work.

There's always a reserve crew on the big day and when I joined the university last year I started off as the cox to the reserves. My primary role is to steer the boat, as well as be the race tactician. I can also see for my boys and tell them what's happening. It's a really tough race so I have to keep their spirits up and keep them highly motivated. The course is four-and-a-quarter miles, which in good weather takes about 18 minutes, and I have to give them a lot of encouragement and remind them it's all worth it.

I knew about four of the boys in my crew from my time on the reserve team last year. I've been training with them and the other four since September. Our initial schedule consisted of working out in the gym from about 7-9am followed by a session on the water from 1.30-5pm. It was tough because you can't miss out on your studying either.

I'm not bossy with my boys, although I can get a bit tense and snappy when I need to be. I think it's more important to have the respect of your team rather than them living in fear of you. Being the oldest of four children, I think I have always known leadership from an early age.

There are no initiation traditions as such, although I did have to down a whole pint of beer in one last year, which was quite something because I am only pint-sized myself. …