For decades, the Duluth Rowing Club (DRC) has given Duluthians an on-the-water summer activity. This past week concluded this summer’s DRC season and rowers rowed their final day at Park Point. The club sport is for people ages 13 and beyond and welcomes students from all Duluth area schools.
“Rowing is great because it’s a true team sport, it’s fun and it’s challenging,” said rower Nathan Sande. “You grow really close with your teammates because you’re around them so much and you’re all working hard together.” Sande rowed for three summers and is now headed to college at St. Olaf.
“I started rowing when I saw all the rowers rolling past my house in the morning and saw how they always looked like they had a lot of fun,” said rower Ricky Lyle. “It’s a great way to start your mornings and meet new people from the city and around the region.”
Lyle, who will be a sophomore at East High School, just completed his fourth summer of rowing and expects to return next year. “DRC is like my second family in the summer,” he said.
For middle and high school students, DRC provides a junior team that generally has over 100 rowers.
“I was very hesitant about joining because I knew nothing about the sport,” said rower Kate Thickens. “I was afraid to show up the first day and make a fool of myself, but it turned out that no one else really knew that much about rowing, either. The first two weeks taught me so much and I thought I knew everything after just 14 days. My past three summers of rowing showed me that I really didn’t know that much at all. The sport isn’t hard to pick up, but hard work and dedication will make you that much better.”
For beginners, there is a two-week learning session before they are able to practice with the returning rowers.
“I began rowing five years ago and immediately fell in love,” said rower Amelia Paul. “I remember my first few years when we’d have ‘erg’ (rowing machine) relays in the back of the old boathouse during thunderstorms. It was so crazy loud because the rain thudded on the metal roof and people would be cheering for their teammates. There’s so much adrenaline and teamwork in that cramped corner of the boathouse.”
With Duluth’s weather being unpredictable and DRC never canceling practices, rowers know that a bad-weather day means workouts on the ergs.
“The most important thing I learned was to not be afraid to push myself and see how far I can go, whether it be on an erg test or in the boat during the race,” Thickens said. “Joining rowing was one of the best decisions I’ve made.”
A big piece of DRC is the team aspect. Everyone must pay attention to the person in front of them or their coxswain, the one in charge of the boat, when rowing in a four or an eight. The other boats are led by the bow seat rower.
“I like how encouraging everyone is,” said rower Esther Carrillo. “I like when we are finished with a race that even if we get first, last or somewhere in-between, we congratulate the other teams that we rowed against.”
Every summer season concludes with the Duluth Rowing Club competing in the North Western International Rowing Association Championship Regatta, a regional competition that consists of 10 clubs from midwestern U.S. and Canada.
“I like the NWIRA regatta because there are so many other boat clubs competing and a lot of races to participate in,” Paul said. “It’s very official, but I kind of love it, I have a lot of good memories.”
Along with having the junior rowing program, DRC also provides learn-to-row classes, masters rowing for adults and open rowing on week nights. Rowers in the junior and master programs compete in the regattas.
“We row but we also have fun, sometimes we travel down to the end of the point to play ultimate frisbee,” Paul said. “It’s a fun way to take a little break from our usual workouts and have a good time.”
Written by Anna Jones as published in the Duluth Budgeteer