How do you row from London to Paris? For the London Otters - the UK's only LGBT+ rowing club - it's all about the 'erg'.
The Otters are hopping onto their machines this Saturday to travel the equivalent distance from East London's Royal Docks to the Champs Elysees - 344km, or 214 miles - in order to raise much-needed funds that will help propel 76 members of the club to next month's Gay Games.
'Erg' - short for ergometer - is the term used by rowers for indoor rowing machines, which form an important part of a rower's training regime. Sponsorship money raised from this weekend's 'ergathon' event in Soho will primarily be used to pay for essential equipment used by all the 150-strong Otters family.
Rowing is one of 36 sports in competition at the 10th edition of the Games being held in the French capital, from August 4-12. Over 10,000 athletes will take part, from over 80 countries, all demonstrating the spirit of LGBT+ inclusion in sport.
For the Otters, founded in 2014, it will be their first competition outside of the UK. The club will represent nearly a third of all rowing participants in the Paris competition and will be entering men's, women's and mixed boats in both open and masters age groups.
"We're so proud to be sending such a large delegation to Paris," said Otters club chairman Craig Batton. "They've been training hard, and it's a real opportunity for our members to not only represent the London Otters and LGBT+ athletes, but also the UK."
The rowing events will take place on the opening two days of the Gay Games with the regatta being held at Lac de Vaires-Marne - an international rowing course that has been recently renovated with new facilities.
We caught up with rowers from the London Otters at their Rainbow Laces regatta in November...
The Otters are also working with Out For Sport, the umbrella group for LGBT sports clubs and teams in London. OFS have established 'Team LGBT+' and are representing more than 830 UK competitors in over 25 sports, including football, athletics, swimming, rowing, hockey, water polo, dance sports, and tennis. OFS is a volunteer organisation that represents the clubs and teams and helps to increase participation in sport in and around the capital.
Mike Malyon, the Otters' fundraising officer, said: "We have a long waiting list of people wanting to join our club, so the ergathon provides an opportunity to raise funds so more LGBT+ people and allies can get out on the water.
Missing the #londonotters after seeing us at #londonpride? Fear not, we’ll be back in Soho at St. Anne’s Churchyard Gardens on 21st July for our 2018 #ergathon Check out the bio to read our story & please donate! #pride #loveislove #lovewins #instagay #rowers #sport #lgbt #gay #happy #squadgoals #ergs #gains #soho #rainbow #parade #supportus
A post shared by London Otters Rowing Club (@londonottersrc) on Jul 9, 2018 at 12:16pm PDT
"Rowing is not a cheap sport, which is why it's sometimes considered to be elitist - something we completely disagree with. The equipment required, including boats, cox boxes, trailering, blades and safety equipment, means it's more financially demanding than other sports, but we strive to remain accessible for everyone and not just those that can afford it."
The Otters will be putting in the miles on their machines from 3pm to 8pm on Saturday, July 21, at St Anne's Churchyard on Wardour Street, London. Follow the link here to donate and help them along on their journey to Paris.