sports: Crew

Let an old tradition become your new summer sport

By Jean Gannon

Summer is coming and it’s time to try something new.

Have you ever considered rowing? If you don't know much about rowing, neither did I when I started doing crew thirty years ago. You're in good company. When you start out, the boat seems like it has a mind of its own with the oars flopping around and the rowers not much better off. But you pick it up quick and sooner than you would expect, you find yourself utterly in synch with seven other people. When the boat feels like it's flying, and you can hear the water singing under you, you’ll get hooked. Just like I did. There's nothing better…except maybe seeing a bald eagle swoop down near your boat to pluck a fish out of the Hudson.

You may have seen crew boats on the Hudson as there are several clubs and teams that row in the Albany area, including my group: the Albany Rowing Center (ARC). ARC is based out of the boathouse at the Corning Preserve in Albany. It is made up of people of all ages and every kind of background with rowers of all ability levels, some very competitive and some rowing purely for the fun of it. There are crews made up of junior rowers (ages 11-18) and those with master rowers (anyone over 18).

The only requirement is that you have to know how to swim, but all ARC members receive coaching and safety training. And unlike most activities, if you qualify, you could row with us for free! A local charitable foundation is working with the Albany Rowing Center to provide limited need based scholarships for those interested in junior rower, as well as scholarships to minorities and people of color for both youth and adults.

Crew is a full body, no-impact sport that anyone can learn. You can expect to become competitive within a few months. It makes no difference whether you’re 12 or 102, the process is the same. Rowing is a sport where teamwork is key, and even the smallest members of the team are essential.

Smaller rowers are often given the opportunity to be the coxswain (pronounced cox’n) who are the ones steering the boat and providing coaching and instruction to the rowers. So, if you are small and/or bossy, maybe you could be a coxswain and ARC would provide all the training. One of ARCs former coxswains went on to be part of the US Olympic team.

June 1 was when ARC participated in National Learn to Row Day, but there’s no need to wait another year— reach out to us directly! We’ll be happy to show you around and get you in a boat so you can try it out to see if you would like it. We row year-round with land training on rowing machines and strength building at our winter training facility. For adults over 18, we offer novice classes in the evenings. For those entering 6th – 12th grades, we offer week long summer camps. The camps run from 9:00 -12:00 Monday through Fridays. Our masters rowers have the option to practice in the morning or afternoon, and our juniors practice in the afternoon at 4:00pm, Monday through Friday.

Make this the summer you do something different, learn something different, and hang out with some new teammates! Come to the boathouse and check us out, or go to our website: or email us at We hope to see you at the boathouse!