Oh, a rowing we will go

Forget the laid-back, late summer canoe trip-middle and high school students loaded up pairs and eight shell boats this week to help feed the 50-year-old crew tradition at Marietta High School.

Learn to Row Camp was held this week for sixth through 12th grade students by the Harmar Rowing Club and the MHS Tiger Navy at the Broughton Boathouse, which has its own dock along the Muskingum River on Gilman Avenue.

The purpose of the camp, coaches said, was to teach the basics to beginners while providing a summer workout option for more experienced rowers.

“The main thing is we want middle school students to know about us and know we’re here,” said Tanner O’Connor, head coach of the MHS boys crew team. “It’s kind of like a feeder camp into the high school.”

Both high school students who are already on the crew teams and interested middle school students participate in the camp.

“Our more experienced rowers will teach the sport, then when the beginners start to catch on we get them in the water,” said Joe Tewkesbury, head coach of the MHS girls team. “It’s not something you get to do that often because in spring the water isn’t really conducive to it because it’s full of debris and the water’s really moving.”

The Monday through Saturday camp starts out teaching the basics like rowing terminology, and ends Saturday with a few short sprints for the nearly 20 campers.

“We just want them to know what it feels like to race,” O’Connor said.

Sophomore Mariah Bloomingdale already has experienced rowing on the high school team.

“For us who already row it’s a good way to keep up your skills over the summer, and it’s also just fun to get back in the water,” she said.

Though a separate crew team is not offered for middle school students, the long-standing tradition of the MHS crew team helps entice beginners.

“My friend’s sister rowed for MHS and my friend and I were going to do it together but she backed out, so I came alone,” said sixth-grader Claire Hawkins. “But it’s been really fun so far and I’ve learned a lot.”

Hawkins said she plans to keep up with the camps and join crew in high school as soon as possible.

Tewkesbury said though the camp is targeted for middle school and high school students, the coaches are willing to teach anyone big enough to sit up in a boat.

“I’ve taught people as young as 7 and as old as 75,” he said. “We’ve done these camps basically from the beginning.”

Sophomore Patrick Elliott thanked peer pressure for getting him into the sport.

“I got into it because all my friends were really persuasive and wouldn’t shut up about it, so I said ‘why not,'” Elliott said. “But I like getting to travel everywhere with friends.”

Elliott said the camp is a good way to work out over the summer, but he also uses it as a good opportunity to teach younger rowers.

O’Connor said the group plans to host an adult Learn to Row Camp in the near future, but a date has not been set.