Rowing Club Enjoys Piece of the Trinity River

By Nick Olivier, Communications Intern

Located between two dams, the Fort Worth Rowing Club enjoys a 3000 meter stretch of the Trinity River nearly all to itself. From its boathouse and dock near the Beach Street bridge to the Fourth Street bridge, you can often find members of the club rowing up and down the river. Whether training for the next regatta or enjoying a peaceful exercise, the rowers make full use of the Trinity River. The club averages 1,000 rowing trips a year among its members and guests, not including the Steerhead Regatta it hosts every September. Other than the most avid individual fishermen, the group of about 75 rowers touch the river more than any other user group.

Last Thursday evening, I strolled up to the club’s boathouse ready for a leisurely trip down the Trinity. I had never rowed before and I quickly realized that jumping in the boat and rowing down the river isn’t so easy. The mechanics of rowing and the unsteadiness of the skinny row boats made my first trip more difficult than I expected. After I learned the difference between holding my oars in “square” and “feather” positions, I was on my way. I think I did surprisingly well, perhaps due to past experience with ergonomic rowing machines in gyms. More likely it was due to great coaching.

I received a crash course (minus the crash) in rowing from two very friendly members, membership director Kristen Laramore and charter president Lee Smith. Smith, 76, has been with the club since it’s inception over 20 years ago. Smith and about 11 friends, many of them eagle scouts began meeting informally in 1989 and received recognition as an official USRowing club in 1991. A rowing merit badge counselor for the Boy Scouts since 1950, Smith rows competitively with his daughter, Amy Rice. The pairing won a gold and a silver medal at the 1999 National Championships in Atlanta.

The long-term goal of the club’s founding members was to foster crews for high school and collegiate programs. Dallas has multiple high school rowing programs, but the Fort Worth Rowing Club would like to assist local high schools to start their own teams. The club produces serious competitors for state, regional and national competitions. One member was a collegiate national champion while rowing for the University of Wisconsin. The club is currently accommodating collegiate rowers on summer break from the University of Texas and the University of Pennsylvania. A Brazilian international rower on her way to the 1998 Goodwill Games in New York City trained for two weeks on the Trinity River.

Did you know: Technically-speaking, the Fort Worth Rowing Club engages in very little rowing. “Rowing” is actually done with two or more rowers on the same boat each using one oar on one side of the boat. Nearly all the club’s boats are geared for “skulling,” in which each person uses two oars, one on either side of the boat. This allows for individuals to get on the water by themselves, as well as in groups of two or four.

For more information regarding lessons and joining the club, click HERE.

Click HERE to see more photos of the rowing club and its boathouse.

Click HERE to see video of Lee and Amy row-row-rowing their boat.

Have you seen the rowers on the Trinity? Do you wish you could join them on the water? Or are you more of a canoe and kayak person?