Learn to Row Day a Hit on Mon River

Morgantown Dominion Post
3 June 2012
By Jack Lake

The Monongahela Rowing Association (MRA) took full advantage of the nice weather Saturday on National Learn to Row Day.

Rowers from the MRA and WVU women’s rowing team came together to promote the sport to area residents.

“The intent of this event is to publicize the sport of rowing, the availability in Morgantown and to get more people out to participate and see that it is a great sport,” former MRA president John Duarte said. “The sport has a place in Morgantown. We’ve got a great river, and I think there is room to do a lot more.”

Upon arrival, visitors entered the boat house, where they were briefed on boating and water safety. After the short video, basic technique was demonstrated before visitors headed off to the docks.

“I think it was set up very nicely,” WVU sophomore Emily Phipps said. “I think it was great to have people from the university and the MRA here to help train us.”

Instruction continued as visitors climbed into one of three training boats and received coaching from MRA members. The amateur rowers paddled back and forth from the docks. MRA members gave advice on posture, turning and technique while holding on to ropes attached to the boats, ensuring no one would float down river unprepared.

After being deemed ready to row solo, some visitors were untied and sent out to explore the river by the power of their own bodies where they could row either in a one-man or four-man boat.

“I grew up in North Carolina on a lake and always kayaked before and loved being on the water,” Phipps said. “I wanted to see if rowing was anything like it and it’s definitely not, but I definitely think it’s a great sport.”

There are some misconceptions about the sport of rowing, who can participate and what it takes to be a rower.

“People look at rowing and think it’s an upper-body sport but it’s not,” MRA President David Rosend said. “It’s really a lower-body sport.”

Though most of the work in rowing is done with the legs, the sport is praised by most MRA members as a fullbody workout of the legs, core, arms and back. Rosend even suggests rowing as great training for triathletes. Rowing is a low-impact sport, making it great for those who might not be able to participate in other sports due to joint problems or injury.

After a cycling accident that left Duarte with a broken pelvis three years ago, his participation in other sports such as running and cycling has been limited, though he is still out and rowing due to its low-impact nature.

The adaptability of the sport is something that only makes it more accessible to more people. Rosend has been involved with the sport for more than 40 years despite the fact that he has been in leg braces since before his teens.

Rosend was stricken with polio at age 11 and struggled to find his place in sports. After trying several sports, Rosend came upon rowing and everything was downstream from there.

“There was nothing I couldn’t do with rowing, finally I had a sport I could do and do well,” Rosend said. “I was fortunate enough my school had boats ... Once I’m on the water, I can row as well as anybody.”

Rosend said there are many adaptive rowing opportunities for those with disabilities, such as blindness and even missing limbs.