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Row, row, row your boat

Rowing is a fun, low impact sport for all ages with ‘magical’ views of the sunrise over the water, and the company of teammates, an added bonus.

Rowing on Albert Park lake

At 6.30am, while most of us are still tucked up in bed, the Vice-President of Y Rowing ClubExternal Link , Mary-Jo Lynch, is often already in a boat, rowing laps of Albert Park Lake.

‘If I was to wake up at five o'clock on a winter’s morning to just to do something on my own, I'd probably roll over and go back to sleep. But because it's a crew, you have to go. And then you row and then you're energized and it's a great feeling. You're really set for the day.’

Kind of magic

Even a dozen years after taking up the sport, Mary-Jo still describes the scene of watching the sun rise or set from the water as ‘kind of magical’.

‘Somebody will always say, “Oh isn't this perfect”. It doesn’t matter that you do it every day – we still find the awe.’

Rowing usually involves four people working as a team with the oars and a cox, who is responsible for steering and setting the pace. Rowing a couple of laps of Albert Park Lake takes about an hour and regular sessions are held at 8am on Sunday mornings or 10am on Wednesday mornings. Members can head out any time of the day or night, any day of the week. Mary-Jo rows at six in the morning a couple of times a week and in the evenings.

‘There's people who row in the morning and in the evening, so you get to see sunrises and sunsets and it's just so good to be out in the fresh air,’ Mary-Jo says.

Fresh air

‘Physically, it's a wonderful sport because there is no impact at all. You just sit in your own sliding seat, so you just slide up and slide back. It uses about 85 per cent of your muscles, so you really engage your legs, your core, your arms. It’s also good for flexibility.’

Not that you necessarily need to be in great shape to give it a go.

‘We have people who have shoulders that are a bit tricky or their knees are dodgy and we work around it. This morning we were laughing because we were putting four people into the boat and somebody had to be on this side because they had a bad shoulder and the other one had to go on the other side because their hip was out.’

Mary-Jo encourages seniors who are curious about the sport to give it a go, with the women’s club holding regular Come and Try session every year during Seniors’ Week and Learn to Row programs every month. These are open to all adults.

‘Some people learn really quickly, they are just naturals, for others it may take a bit longer, but I don't think it's really hard and we're pretty supportive.’

‘People worry about getting in and out of the boat but it doesn’t matter if you can’t spring out of the boat like the 18-year-olds do – you might even have to kind of crawl out of the boat – but as long as you can get in and row, who cares,’ Mary-Jo laughs.

Reviewed 09 November 2023