Learn to Row Day

Looking for exercise? Love the outdoors? Enjoy the water?

Due to the current pandemic situation, the club is still evaluating our options for sharing this wonderful sport with brand new rowers. Join our mailing list for updates.

Frequently Asked Questions

For more than 25 years, the Rivanna Rowing Club has offered summer rowing programs for people of all ages and skill-levels. Some do it as an activity, some for fitness, and others for the sport (check out photos from prior competitions). 

Can anyone learn to row?

Yup, pretty much anyone who is in decent physical shape, or who wants to get in better shape. Our members range in age from age 13 – age 79; some start as early as high school, while others discover rowing only after trying numerous other activities.

Rowing is a great total-body cardiovascular and strength exercise: it is low-impact (easier on your knees & feet), is anti-gravity (strengthens bones, joints, muscles of your legs, core, and arms), and can be done indoors or outdoors. That’s why rowing is for life!

What should I wear to your open house?

Bike shorts are great, but any garment that is not too loose or baggy (you sit on a sliding seat, baggy shorts can get caught in the wheels or track). Tee shirts are fine. Layers are best.

Can I bring my younger kids?

Yes, but an extra adult would need to keep an eye on them while you are on the barge.

Should I bring water?

We will have plenty to drink – and plenty to row on. We’ll have some goodies to eat as well.

How much time will we be out on the reservoir?

About 20–25 minutes. And we need about 75 minutes of your time for the land-based bits – touring the boat house, learning about the club, teaching you the stroke on rowing ergometers (rowing machines).

Are there rapids or rough water?

We row on the best flat water around – a placid reservoir that is over five miles long.

Is this rain or shine?

Yup – rowers like the water.

Does it matter if I come at 9 or at 11 am?

Either time is fine, just try to arrive about 10 minutes early, since we have a full schedule for you and want to start promptly. Normally we get more visitors at the 9 am time slot.

I am into other sports/I’ve never done any sports; is rowing right for me?

Absolutely. You will get a full-body aerobic workout without pounding your joints. Rowing will help tone your muscles and strengthen your core. Unbeknownst to many, rowing strengthens your legs and core (despite the arms being the most visible body part when viewed from shore).

I have some physical issues with my back, shoulder, etc, is rowing OK for me?

Maybe, maybe not. Part of rowing is that each rower in a boat helps carry the shell down to the water and back up the hill at the end of practice. Everyone must do their part. If you are concerned, check with a coach or your doctor. 

Can I bring a friend?

What a great idea! And when you both sign up for our coached programs (the first programs of the summer start in May, more start in June and July), your friend will encourage you onward – ever faster.

I rowed in high school/college, is the open house worthwhile for me?

Yes, because you will want to see what equipment you might want to use and learn about which programs might best fit your goals. Plus, meet some fellow rowers in case you’d like to row together!

I have no rowing experience, but plan to come to your LTR day open house. If I like it, what happens next?

You can sign up for our Learn to Row (LTR) classes. These four-week classes start in June, in mornings or evenings, three times a week. By the halfway point in the class, you will be rowing in regular collegiate 8 person rowing shells. After LTR class, you graduate into our regular rowing programs – for fitness or competition.

What do you mean by “sweep” rowing?

This is easier to show than tell, but here we go: College rowers typically do sweep rowing. Each rower has one oar, about 12 feet long. A rower holds that “sweep” with both hands. This contrasts with “sculling” – a kind of rowing where each rower has two oars, each about 9 feet long. Nearly all our newcomers start out in sweep rowing, but the club has equipment and coached programs for both sculling and sweep rowing. The asymmetric nature of sweep implies even numbers of rowers at all times in a boat, while with sculling, one can learn to row solo in a “singles” boat.

I’d really like to learn how to scull rather than sweep  – can I do that? 

Yes you can; however we require you take the LTR course first so you become familiar with all aspects of the sport before you climb into a scull. The LTR course will introduce sculling principles too! And because you’re learning in multi-person boats, you will benefit from crewmates taking turns to balance the boat as you learn.

Afterwards, participants may continue on to the dedicated Learn to Scull class (both can be done in the same Summer, if you plan the dates accordingly). Since sculling is taught in one-person boats (“singles”), it is very easy to flip and requires higher standards of safety knowledge + skill level, before you can feel confident rowing on the Reservoir alone.

I can’t swim, should I row?

For Learn-to-Row Day, we use the safest possible equipment: a 16-person barge that is nearly impossible to flip. It is quite rare that rowers end up in the water, but wisdom says rowers must be swimmers.

Where can I find more program information and sign up?

Head over to our Programs web pages.