John studied at Cambridge University where he rowed for CUBC reserve boat in 1982 and 1983. Then during the Boat Race in 1984, his crew famously sank before the start because they hit a barge during the warm up.

He moved to Putney and joined London Rowing Club, rowing there for five years. John became Vice-Captain in 1992 and led the team as Captain in 1993 before getting married.