Anacostia and Potomac Rivers Have Rowing Clubs Open to the Public

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Washington boasts two rivers and plenty of opportunities for getting on the water. The Anacostia Community Boathouse, near the Navy Yard, is home to the Capital Rowing Club ( and DC Strokes (, a primarily gay and lesbian group. Both offer novice programs: The Strokes sessions are all in May. Capital offers four five-week courses that stretch from April through October; class meets every Saturday and Sunday morning for three hours, and plenty of spots are still available for the fall session.

On the Potomac, arguably the more scenic spot, is the Thompson Boat Center ( Its novice "sweep" program is more condensed than Capital's: Students meet two hours a day, either in the morning or evening, from one Monday until Friday of the following week. Classes are held every two weeks through August.

Sweep rowing means each rower has one oar. There's also sculling, which requires command of two oars. Sweeping has to be done as part of a team, while sculling can be a group or solo activity. Thompson also offers learn-to-scull lessons, which are available through mid-September.

Once you get your feet wet, you can continue through a club or competitive program. Capital, Thompson and DC Strokes try to cater to all levels of ability and interest. And if you don't like waking up at 4 a.m.? Go ahead and sleep in. Many recreational rowers stick to an after-work schedule and still get the opportunity to compete locally.

Rowing is not the cheapest sport, but it's not as pricey as one might imagine. For example, an annual membership is $155 at Capital, where you'll also pay a program fee of $75 to $135 per season. (There are three seasons a year, with no programs in winter.) The total ends up on a par with a year at many gyms.

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