Originally created 03/03/03

Striving to go the distance



Rowing down the Savannah River might appear easy to an observer, but it's not. It takes coordination, effort and skill.

Try rowing on an ergometer, a stationary rowing machine, on land.

The rower must move in one coordinated motion - pushing out with the legs, then pulling on a handle, stretching all the way back, and then coming back in with the knees and arms locked together.

The legs burn after several back-and-forth motions.

Try doing that more than 250,000 times in five hours. That's about 160 miles of rowing, or 32 miles each hour.

The Augusta Junior Rowing Club made that distance Sunday afternoon at Augusta Mall.

The club, made up of high school-age rowers from the Augusta area, rowed to raise money for an upcoming competition and to increase awareness of their sport, said Terri McLeskey, the president of the club.

Ergometers were lined up in front of American Eagle Outfitters, where passers-by could watch the teenage athletes row mile after mile from 1 to 6 p.m.

"It's really a good team sport," said Ally Taft, 15. The Westside High School student, who has been with the team for more than a year, practices six days a week, she said.

Ms. McLeskey said each of the 36 members had friends, family members and neighbors pledge to donate money per meter.

Each male had to row 10,000 meters, or more than six miles, Ms. McLeskey said, and each female had to row 5,000 meters, or more than three miles.

The club hoped to raise more than $3,000 for a trip to a regatta competition in Orlando, Fla., on March 15, she said.

"It doesn't get a lot of recognition," Ms. McLeskey said of the sport, "but it's beautiful to watch."

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or at jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.