Great Miami rowers preparing for weekend championships

Athletes from the Great Miami Rowing club were on their namesake river this week, preparing for the Midwest Junior Rowing Championships this weekend at East Fork State Park in Clermont County.

“We’re getting ready for our championship regional regatta this weekend,” said Kyle Stanley, who has been the coach since January. “The boats are ready to go, and we’re just getting the kids out on the water as much as we can before we go up against pretty much the top competition the Midwest has to offer.”

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Teams from about 13 states will compete, with the best moving on to nationals.

“We’ve gone through a lot of changes in the past year and a half, with the transition out of the Row America structure,” Stanley said. “The team size has grown considerably, from around 20 to about 35 right now, and that depth helps a lot with building speed.”

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“We’ve definitely seen a lot of speed being added on over the past few months,” he said. “Our novice men have kind of set a new standard for what speed is, for men on this team, and our varsity women, who went to nationals last year, are hoping to build off of that success and hit it again this year.”

Two of the women from that four-person boat have returned this year to the club, which has students from about 11 high schools, plus home-schooled students.

The program at one point had about 60 members, “and we’re hoping to get back to that,” Stanley said. “There’s a lot of opportunity around here.”

Meanwhile, the adult program has grown from seven to 14 in recent months.

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Sami Drago, 17, a senior at Lakota West High School who has been rowing about five years and a coxswain, is looking forward to some fierce competition this weekend.

“It’s very intense, because you know you’re all racing to compete for a spot at nationals, and everything, but it’s also fun — if the boat you race against makes it to nationals, then you’ve competed with the best of the best, and it’s a great experience,” Drago said.

Rowing is fun because of “the relationships we make,” said Drago, who plans to attend the University of Cincinnati’s nursing program. “The team is kind-of like one big family.”

And then there’s the scenery of the Great Miami River, which she said, “is just neat — you can see the city from a completely different view, and it’s just a great way to get a feel for Hamilton itself.”


HOW TO EXPERIENCE ROWING

Want to experience rowing for yourself? Here are ways to do it:

  • National Learn to Row Day will be Saturday, June 3, and is available to anyone, and is free. To register, go to www.greatmiamirowing.com.
  • For students in 7th through 12th grades, Great Miami Rowing is providing four separate weeks of Learn to Row camps, that offer the feel of competition by the end of each week. Rowers go from using stationary rowing machines on the land to competing on the water. The sessions are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with lunch provided. They happen the weeks of June 19-23; June 26-30; July 10-14; and July 17-21. The cost is $75 per week, with a $10 discount for those who sign up by June 1. There also are discounts for people who participate more than one week. Sign-ups are through www.greatmiamirowing.com.

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