Rowers pulling together for fun


Crew: Armed with oars and camaraderie, an Annapolis club pursues the pleasures of speed.

On The Water

Watersports in Anne Arundel County

July 13, 2005|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,SUN STAFF

Back in college there were some hard and fast rules about members of the crew team. They got up early in the morning. They were constantly going to the gym. They told stories about getting sick after working out. They were super tall and didn't have a pinch of fat on their bodies.

That's why it was a little surprising to find a jolly group of rowers ready to hit the water at 6:15 p.m. (yes: p.m.) Monday at the St. John's College boathouse. The hour was far too reasonable for proper rowing.

Plus, these were not the overgrown Olympic types one normally sees hanging around the boathouse. The rowers were moms, a few college students, and professionals of various ages. Some were short, others were tallish. And all were prepared to pick their way through the usually rough evening waters for a row.

"It is two hours when my kids can't get ahold of me," said Lori Mayers, an Annapolis resident who's been rowing with the club for two years. "We row because it is fun."

The group - part of the Annapolis Rowing Club - also rows for fitness and companionship.

"The goal for the evening group is to be flexible and accommodate everyone's schedule. It has more people who are learning how to row," said Jim Bunce, who is a member of the club's board of trustees and rows in the evening. The club practices at the mouth of the Severn River.

The club does include competitive men's and women's boats that row early in the morning. There is also a morning sculling group and a juniors program for high school students.

And although the evening group is not fanatical, the members do take the sport seriously. They have two coaches who drive skiffs alongside the shells, shouting feedback to the rowers. They do a Pilates class together one evening a week when they're not on the water.

And even the beginners have felt that magical groove that encourages rowers to keep coming out.

"There is a symphony of sounds when you are doing it right. It is an odd thing," Mayers said. "When you're not feeling that symphony you know you're slowing the boat down and you feel bad."

And on Monday, the conditions couldn't have been better for rowing. The air was still and the water was flat. Few powerboats zipped around kicking up wake.

Plus, enough rowers showed up to practice to fill up two boats with eight rowers each - and that meant the evening ended with a 1,000-meter race.

The coaches offered plenty of feedback - one person needed to keep her oars lower, one person was starting the stroke too early, another too late - but the boats sliced swiftly though the water.

As they passed by, one could hear those distinct creaking and clicking sounds - those symphonic sounds that you only hear when the majority of the rowers are working together.

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