Originally created 01/26/03

New rowers test waters at session



Joyce Frei figured rowing down the tranquil waters of the Savannah River might be a pleasant diversion from a life of crunching numbers and figuring out statistics.

"I just retired from doing accounting work and was ready for a new challenge," the North Augusta resident said.

Thanks to the Augusta Rowing Club, Mrs. Frei and about 15 other prospective club members were given a chance Saturday morning to see firsthand what rowing is all about.

At an open-house session at the Boathouse Community Center along the Savannah River, club membership coordinators Tim Jannik and Brenda Cole told newcomers about the joy of rowing.

"It's very aerobic and good for strength training," said Mr. Jannik, a six-year rower who says age and gender have no bearing on rowing prowess.

"More than half of our members are female. It's low impact and easy on the joints," said the Savannah River Site scientist.

The sessions were held at the Boathouse's indoor training facilities because of cold weather.

As a former mail carrier, Mrs. Cole said low-impact exercise is important to her.

"My knees were eventually affected," said the mother of three children. "Rowing offers a tremendous release" from her domestic duties, she said. She started taking lessons last June.

The club has been in Augusta more than 17 years, but Mr. Jannik said the group still must overcome stereotypes that rowing is an elite sport for Ivy League types.

"We're trying to make people aware it's a sport for everyone," he said.

Jean Dillard of Martinez has a down-to-earth attitude about taking lessons.

"I've been canoeing for 10 years and wanted to try something different," she said.

Mr. Jannik said Augusta is attractive to novice rowers, Olympic trainers and professionals alike.

"We have all the facilities, the boats and our calm river," he said. Rowing enthusiasts from the Northeast come here to train because of Augusta's usually mild weather.

ROWING LESSONS

WHO: Augusta Rowing Club

WHAT: Introduction to Rowing

WHERE: The Boathouse Community Center, 101 Riverfront Drive

UPCOMING SESSIONS: Saturday, Feb. 1; Feb. 8, 10 a.m.

COST: Open House is free; $80 for lessons; $220 for an annual membership

CONTACT: Tim Jannik, 278-0003, or access www.augustarows.com

Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or tim.cox@augustachronicle.com