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Published: Wednesday, 7/6/2011

Rowing club offers day camp for youth

Basics, special techniques are offered

BY PAYTON WILLEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A flock of female rowers joins a gaggle of Canada geese for a relaxing day on the Maumee River near downtown Toledo.
A flock of female rowers joins a gaggle of Canada geese for a relaxing day on the Maumee River near downtown Toledo.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Toledo Rowing Club is offering its first day camp for youngsters this month in hopes of fostering interest in the sport

The two-week summer camp is an addition to the club's summer program, or SumPro, and will provide young athletes with the basics of sweep rowing, special rowing training techniques, and rowing on the water. The program also emphasizes safety and provides a fun-filled, relaxed way to learn the sport.

Rod McElroy, dubbed "the grandfather of high school rowing," is a member and director of the SumPro sessions. He said it is important to educate young people about the sport and get them involved in rowing.

"About 12 or 15 years ago, the reason I started SumPro was because I looked around and the adult members of the rowing club all had silver hair, which indicated that there were several miles on them," said Mr. McElroy, who took up rowing at Harvard University. "No young adults. And if the club was going to survive, you had to build a convoy of people who can step up."

The club has a nearly 30-year history of survival.

Toledo Rowing Club opened in 1982 and has since grown into a club with more than 300 members of all ages and experience levels, including high school, college, and master rowers. Depending on the weather, the club's rowing season typically starts in mid March and ends in November.

Patrick Sheehan, club president, said he heard about the club in 2004 when his daughter started rowing for St. Ursula Academy.

"It was a sport that was brand new to me at the time," Mr. Sheehan said.

Since then, Mr. Sheehan has taken up rowing both as a hobby and to do competitively. Annual membership in the club is $300, including access to the boathouse and equipment.

"You'll travel around the Midwest and see other facilities," Mr. Sheehan said. "Some are much nicer, and some don't have quite what we have. We feel fortunate to have what we do."

Toledo Rowing Club participates in the Frogtown Races Regatta each year.

It is one of the largest fall regatta's in the Midwest with more than 600 rowers traveling from all over the United States and Canada to compete at International Park in downtown Toledo. This year's regatta, which has a three-mile course along the Maumee River, is Sept. 24.

Competitions are done in singles, doubles, and also in teams of four and eight.

For high school rowers, the coach makes lineup decisions. But for master rowers at the club, there is no full-time coach for boat lineup, and the rowers choose who is best fit to compete on a team together.

Other Toledo Rowing Club competitions take place in Columbus, Pittsburgh, and elsewhere. This year, the club was invited to compete in the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, a race that attracts rowers from the United States, Canada, and Europe.

"It's a big deal to row in Boston," said Mr. Sheehan, club president.

This year's day camp for youngsters aged 11 to 14 will be held the next two weeks, from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday both weeks.

Mr. McElroy said those interested in the day camp, which costs $90, will need to have a guardian sign a waiver because the sport is potentially dangerous.

No prior rowing experience is needed, and all equipment will be provided through the club.

"You can't wear a life jacket and row well," Mr. McElroy explained. "Our concern and demand is that rowers know how to float."

Mr. McElroy added: "I don't care if they know how to swim. They need to float."

To sign up for the day, visit toledorowing.org.

Contact Payton Willey at: paytonwilley@theblade.com or 419-724-6065.



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