Rowing 101

How to Fall in Love with a Sport You've Never Considered Before

One of the most anticipated programs for Harmony 2018 is the addition of rowing. UP Rowing, based in Marquette on the shores of Lake Superior and Terry Smythe, a rowing legend based in the Houghton/Hancock area are partnering with Camp Michigamme to offer an introduction to the sport of rowing. We sat down with Kristi Hintz, a member of the UP Rowing Crew from Marquette to find out why she got involved with rowing.

8 woman crew plus the coxswain after a row

Kristi Hintz has been a member of UP Rowing (formerly known as UPCRC) for the past 3 seasons. She had never rowed a scull before she joined but fell in love with the sport and the team camaraderie, not to mention that it is a great workout for all four seasons!

Kristi, how did you first get involved in UP Rowing (formerly UPCRC)?

When we first moved to Marquette, we saw them out on the water, in Lake Superior. Then I saw a flyer for the club and was interested in getting more involved in the community. I was fascinated with being on Lake Superior because I love to be on the water. And I was interested in a healthy challenge that is both a workout and a team effort. I tried out the Learn to Row program 3 summers ago and fell in love with the sport, the club, and the camaraderie. It’s not the way things were in my mom’s generation, there’s a lot more opportunity to get out and get active for women of all ages. Plus, rowing is a sport that contains everything I like! Water, workouts, challenges, and teamwork.

Rowing oars all lined up and ready to go!

Had you ever rowed before trying the Learn to Row program?

I’ve never lived in a place where you could row simply because of geography and not being near a body of water that was conducive to rowing. I also wasn’t looking because it never dawned on me to try it out before I came to Marquette.

You transitioned from the Learn to Row program into the club the same summer you started. What made you want to continue in the sport?

I learned that everyone can do it! The equipment, the shells, the rigging, the oars, and the ability to store and transport them, is expensive. BUT, unlike many other sports, you don’t have to buy those things to be a part of the club. The club owns them so you just need a life jacket. Personal equipment is very minimal.

And the sisterhood of the crew played a big role. I’d found a place with strong women doing a cool sport in snazzy clothes. It is a place where regardless of your age, ability, skill level, or fitness level, you are welcomed and encouraged. 

Teamwork is needed to get the rowing shells into the lake

How would you describe the sport of rowing to someone who is curious about it?

I’d said that rowing is for everyone. It is a lifelong sport meaning you can start at any age and you can participate well into your later years. And it’s the perfect sport for people who won’t necessarily consider themselves athletic as well as those that do! Unlike many other hobbies or sports the amount of equipment needed quite small. There’s no impact and it is rewarding because it is a team sport. We row together. It’s a sisterhood.

You’ve mentioned that is a sisterhood and team sport. Tell us more about that.

Even if you row a single scull, you are never out on the lake alone. And it’s a very positive and encouraging environment. We lift each other up as we row, regardless of ability, speed, or strength. There’s also accountability to the team to show up. You are counting on them to show up and they are counting on you. If you are planning on rowing an 8 person shell, you are going to need all 8 to show up plus a coxswain and the safety launch crew. If one rower doesn’t show, you can’t row with 7. It may not help get the laundry done or dinner on the table but you leave feeling fulfilled by the time spent on the water or in the winter, spent on the ergs (Ergs are indoor rowing machines). And there is always something new to learn. You can always improve different parts of your technique and form. Every time I get in the boat, I learn something and it’s the sisterhood that cultivates a positive learning environment.

The UP Rowing crew after a regatta

What is your favorite moment from your past 3 seasons of rowing?

I’d have to say that it’s the moment your boat rows a perfect stroke together. When you’ve rowed a beautiful stroke, with 4 or 8 people or even in a single, it’s like “Oh yea, this is it. This is why we do this!” It’s a fantastic feeling as you slide right over the water together.

Rowing on Lake Superior

You talked about the Learn to Row program. When does that happen and what can someone expect if they decided to try it out?

Learn to Row starts in June each year. Everyone, adults and youth, are invited to come to the information session. This year it is happening on June 5th at Marquette Hope Connection Center, 927 W. Fair Ave, Marquette. After the information session, you’d go take a swimming test and fill out paperwork. Then you are assigned a boat and a coach and a time to row! After a handful of weeks of learning about the sport, practicing your technique and feeling out the equipment, you are welcomed to join the rowing club for the remainder of the season. This means you can sign up for regular rows with the crew and if interested, participate in a regatta or two. There is flexibility in the sport as well. Because we are volunteer club, you can sign up to row or help man the safety launch or learn to be a coxswain. We all rotate through the various roles so that others can row too. You can also row almost every day or once a week depending on your schedule and level of commitment.

Where can folks find out more about rowing?

You can visit the FaceBook page foUP Rowing. You can also email or visit the website. There is also a great program called UCanRow2 that helps people get involved with rowing and rowing workouts. If you don’t live near Marquette or Houghton/Hancock areas, there are rowing clubs throughout the US. In fact there’s an entire crew of women down in Chicago that are all breast cancer survivors! They made the cover of the magazine Athletica last fall and are truly a crew of strong women, supporting, and empowering each other through their sport and on their journey.

Thanks Kristi for sharing your sport with us!

We hope that you’ll join us in August as we bring out ergs on land and shells on Lake Michigamme along with several coaches and local rowing club members to help us learn and try out the amazing sport of rowing!

Harmony Retreat 2018: Exploring Balance runs from August 23rd – August 26th, 2018 at Camp Michigamme, 3667 US Hwy 41, Michigamme, MI 49861. Cost is $270 with a $30 discount if you register before May 1st, 2018. For more information on Harmony Retreat or sign up for the monthly newsletter or register today!

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