Rowing is one of many Olympic sports that is so elegant in its execution and so mastered by its world-class competitors, it compels you to give it a try and, quite erroneously, convinces you that it is going to be easy. If you are fortunate enough to live in Aberdeen, participating should not present a challenge but, make no mistake, the rowing most certainly will.
Image: Ron Wallace
Many will have tried their hand at rowing on a machine in a loud, steamy sports centre but only when you find yourself gliding over the calm waters of the River Dee in the wee hours of the morning, with a crisp breeze drying the sweat on your brow, will you know its true power. This is a sport that benefits you mentally almost as much as it does physically.
If you have spent any time walking the banks of the Dee, you will have encountered the characterful boat houses of the local rowing clubs, but you may not have realised just how welcome you would be made to feel in them. The Aberdeen Boat Club, established over 150 years ago, runs regular Novice Nights and hosts an annual Inter-Company Regatta, a competition between local businesses which is already in its 33rd year.
The Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association welcomes recreational and competitive members up to age 19 and, through its Wet and Dry Start school programmes, has succeeded in getting a large number of budding young athletes hooked on the sport. At University level, University Rowing Aberdeen supports rowers from both University of Aberdeen and RGU, whether they are looking for a leisurely weekly paddle or wish to compete internationally.
If your only experience of rowing has been watching the graceful boats as they slice through the water in perfectly straight lines across your television screen, you would be doing yourself a favour by coming down to the River Dee and trying it for yourself.