Whether your first exposure to rowing was the Olympics or just the sight of a solitary sculler at dawn, there’s something breathtaking and inspiring about the purity of rowing. Gliding across smooth water on your own power, with a crew of mates or by yourself, there’s nothing quite like it. compasses so many things –, fitness, social, recreational, competitive — all while being environmentally friendly. And it’s never too late to start. We have master rowers in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s, some who have been rowing for years, others who have just taken it up. And for teenagers, rowing is a sport that opens doors to some of the best universities in the country. It teaches you how to be a part of a team and how to work your body to its maximum physical ability.
Nice? It’s the ONLY thing, said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing… he went on dreamily: messing about… in… boats; messing…
– Kenneth Grahame from The Wind in the Willows
The Water Rat had it right … There is no other activity quite like rowing, a sport which has benefits that are so wide-ranging:
- Recreation: Imagine this — The sun is blushing behind the silhouette of cedars as your crew of eight rowers glides from the slough onto the unbroken surface of Lake Sammamish. The coxswain calls out a “Weigh ‘nough” to stop the boat’s motion. You take a drink and make adjustments before the day’s drills as two eagles swoop off the port bow. There is laughter and camaraderie all around. – There are few things more serene than a calm lake on a fall day; rowing is a pathway to getting you outdoors and around energetic people.
- Fitness: Rowing is a total body workout. Rowing only looks like an upper body sport. Although upper body strength is important, the strength of the rowing stroke comes from the legs. Rowing is one of the few athletic activities that involves all of the body’s major muscle groups. It is a great aerobic workout, in the same vein as cross-country skiing. And the class times at SRA are so varied that rowing can be worked into almost any fitness schedule.
- Cross Training: If skiing is your winter sport, make rowing your spring, summer, and fall one. Rowing is second only to cross-country skiing in the .
- Weight Loss: Combined with healthy eating, rowing will help quickly shed pounds as it builds muscle and increases your metabolism.
- Rehab: Although rowing is a full-body workout, it’s low-impact, so people recovering from knee injuries can often row even though they can’t do other sports. It’s a great way to work your lungs for recovering smokers. Or rowing can help you get in shape after a long recess from exercise. It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any athletic endeavor.
- Local Competitions: The Pacific Northwest is a mecca for rowers. There are a dozen or so rowing clubs within the Puget Sound area and there are frequent Masters’ Regattas hosted by different clubs. The events are fun and low-key and you get to meet new rowers from the area.
- Regional, National and International Competitions: If you want to take your competitive drive to the next level, there are Masters’ Regionals, Nationals, and Worlds regattas each year. There is also a World Indoor Rowing Championship in Boston each year.