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Portage Lakes Rowing Association offering classes

7/18/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

NEW FRANKLIN — The Portage Lakes Rowing Association (PLRA) has begun registrations for its summer Introduction to Rowing classes.

“Our Intro to Rowing class is a three-hour program that starts with a safety video, practice on rowing machines, oar-handling on land, moving boats to and from the dock and a coached practice on the water with a couple of experienced rowers on-board to help,” explained Mark Shupe, club president of the PLRA. “The only skill level we are looking for is no skill level. All of our Intro to Rowing crew members are beginning a new journey that can be a life-long experience. Anyone else with several hours or years of experience is welcome to join one of our other programs, competitive or recreational.”

Shupe said the classes tend to be fairly popular.

“I think people who are attracted to rowing for the first time have a reason, maybe from watching the Olympics or a friend’s suggestion. They come with expectations, such as an exhilarating athletic experience, the graceful rhythm of the sport, teamwork, new friends or just the fun of being outdoors on the water,” he said. “Usually, one of the two dates we offer for each season fills up. We have room for 18 people in each session. It’s hard to tell which time slot will be most popular, so it’s always best to reserve a spot early.”

If enough people sign up, Shupe said, the association will consider adding more classes.

“We never want to turn people away,” he stated. “We will do our best to accommodate everyone and add a class when needed.”

According to Shupe, the PLRA offers four classes per year.

“We offer two classes in early May for our spring and early summer Novice program, and two in late July for late summer and fall Novice rowing,” he said. “Then everyone will be offered the opportunity to join the Novice crew led by our fabulous coach, Samantha Warner.”

The next Introduction to Rowing sessions are scheduled for July 22 from 6 to 9 p.m. and July 27 from 9 a.m. until noon. The Novice crew practices on Tuesdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 to 10 a.m.

The Introduction to Rowing class by itself costs $50, and all rowers must sign an application and waiver, which can be downloaded at www.portagelakesrowing.com.

“Anyone who chooses to join our Novice program will have the $50 fee applied to their $250 membership fee,” Shupe said.

The PLRA will provide all of the equipment rowers will need, excluding water bottles and sunglasses, Shupe said, and rowers should wear weather-appropriate clothing, but not baggy shorts.

“If necessary, feel free to dress in layers,” he said. “As you warm up, you can take something off and store it in the foot well of the boat, as it might get wet.”

Shupe said the class should not be considered a strenuous workout.

“Intro to Rowing and the first few weeks of Novice practice will be about technique,” he said. “Once the crew starts to feel comfortable with the sequence of the rowing movements, it can get quite strenuous.”

The classes will take place rain or shine, Shupe noted.

“However, we will not go out on the water if there is thunder, high winds, lightning or anything else we’re not comfortable with,” he said. “If that happens, we’ll arrange another time for people to come back for the outdoor portion of the training. It’s important for our crews to try to anticipate the temperature, possibility of rain, etc., and dress accordingly.”

According to the PLRA website, the group rows on Turkeyfoot, Rex and Mud lakes. The PLRA’s base of operations (dock and boathouse) is at Craftsmen Park, located at 4450 Rex Lake Drive.

For additional information about the Introduction to Rowing classes or the PLRA, go to www.portagelakesrowing.com.

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