Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Learning to Row

Every year my rowing club hold s a series of "Learn to Row" days. It's a way of introducing the sport to others and hopefully get new members. We feel if we can get you out on the water, you'll be hooked. The sport is that good. When I see joggers running through the neighborhood, all I can do is shake my head. Running is not only boring, its tough on your legs, knees, ankles, etc. Plus you only working your legs. Rowing is low impact and your working so many more muscles - legs backs arms.
This weekend was out first of three Learn to Row days and we had about 65 people show up. I believe its our best showing ever. Of course the nice weather didn't hurt either. We start them off with a tour of the boathouse, a little history of the club, show them the shells (boats), explain the difference between sweep rowing and sculling. Let them know the various membership options, including a two week introduction camp that is held prior to the club starting its regular season in June. We team them up with experience rowers in the 8s so we have 4 new rowers and 4 experienced rowers. This gives the new rowers a chance to learn at a faster rate then if they were in a boat full of new rowers. Its 12 hours on the water (six 2 hour sessions) and by the end of the camp we have them feathering and all. We also end up the two week camp by holding a mini-regatta so they can have a taste of what its like to be in a race. We've had nothing but positive feed back on it.
After the tour of the boathouse, we take them to the ergs, which are on the bottom picture. Here we teach them the basic rowing stroke - catch, drive, recover - fast hands away, slow up to the catch. After learning the basic stroke, we send them to the barge. That's the contraption in the middle picture. As you can see its a very stable platform where the visitors get to try out the stroke using a real oar. We have coaches on the barge that help them out and refine their technique, such as it is. After a trip around our cove in the barge, they're ready to try a real shell. Like our camp, we load the boat with 4 experienced rowers and 4 visitors and take them out of the cove onto the Occoquan itself for a 5 t0 10 minute row. Its all fun and everyone seems to enjoy it. We also ply them with refreshments and information on how to sign up for the camp and the club. We have two more Learn to Row days coming up, one in May (May 6) and another in June (June 3). We also run a rowing camp for high school students, including those entering the 9th grade in the fall, in July.
Its great being out on the water again.

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