30for30: Anacostia Sprints—Bringing Rowers to the Nation’s Other River

By Mary McMenamin and Lily Elsner

Capital Rowing Club has been a presence on the Anacostia River since 1995, when it became a founding member of the Anacostia Community Boathouse, at the time located at 1115 M Street SE. The Anacostia Riverfront looked a lot different then: Capital didn’t have a lot of neighbors on either side of the river, let alone much boat traffic on the water. Today, the skyline along all of M Street—from the railroad bridge all the way down to Hains Point—is considerably different, boasting new businesses, new places to live and work, and new access points to explore the river.

Capital has changed, too. In 1988, Capital began with six adult members. Thirty years later, it comprises 11 rowing teams, providing comprehensive programming to over 400 rowers of all ages and abilities.

Capital Juniors is one of these 11 teams. Started 10 years ago by two masters rowers, Capital Juniors seeks to make rowing more accessible to students in the DC area. The team brings more than 60 middle and high school rowers to the Anacostia River each season. They learn not only how to row but also now to protect the river.

On Saturday, April 21, 2018, in celebration of the DC’s Year of the Anacostia and in honor of Earth Day, Capital Juniors partnered with the Anacostia Watershed Society to bring even more visibility to the Anacostia River. We invited neighboring teams to a day of community service and friendly competition.

Nearly 200 rowers from Capital Juniors, Georgetown Day School, Elizabeth Seton High School, Bishop Ireton High School, Sidwell Friends School, and Holton-Arms School participated in the service-learning project, where they were responsible for cleanup activities around the bioswale surrounding the boathouse. The teams collected dozens of bags of trash that would otherwise end up in the water or in the river habitat.

Following the riverfront cleanup, the rowers convened for the first annual Anacostia Sprints, Capital’s first juniors-only regatta. With over 50 entries, the regatta provided the athletes an opportunity to row on the Anacostia River, some for the first time. About half of the competitors practice and race on the Potomac River, so the Anacostia Sprints was a special way to introduce them to DC’s so-called Other River.

It was also special that all the participating teams took home some race hardware—button pins that featured some local DC history. The pins were adorned with the Anacostia Sprints logo: a rendition of the DC flag with an overlay of text based on a popular 1940s-era neon sign found in the Anacostia neighborhood. After all, Capital is committed to its mission of supporting and celebrating the community around the boathouse.

Looking forward, Capital Juniors is excited to invite even more rowers to the Anacostia River, in what we hope will become an annual tradition of community building and racing.

30for30: Leon’s Story

To celebrate our 30th anniversary year, we are running stories about Capital’s past, present, and future. In our inaugural post, Juniors rower and Captain Leon Bi reflects on the difference Capital has made to him.

Splash. Gulp. Splash. My body ached as I ungracefully pushed myself through the water.

At age seven, I started swimming at a competitive swim club. Despite practicing hours every day, I made little progress. Each practice was a reminder that others, who started even earlier, were physically more developed and received extra encouragement from coaches. After three years of feeling insignificant and insecure, I quit.

At age twelve, my life changed when I joined Capital Rowing Club. I was a scrawny kid with a history of feeling inadequate. Yet the team welcomed me to be a part of something greater. Capital’s mission is to offer the sport of rowing to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, and fitness levels. Although our team initially appeared to be a hodgepodge of students from across the DC area, we bonded closely. Our differences were vast, but on the water we were equals who believed in each other, striving to row together in perfect unison. Through Capital, I gained the confidence I needed to shape myself into the person I wanted to be.

Capital took me in and believed in me when I had little faith in myself. In crew, the team is only as strong as the weakest link. I started as the weakest link, but my team always encouraged me. Looking back as Captain now, I am grateful for the chance Capital took on me years ago and hope to inspire others to reimagine the way they see themselves.

Juniors Summer Learn-to-Row Camp

Learn rowing at Capital Rowing Club in a one-week summer camp! No previous experience is needed. The camp will run for a half-day Monday – Friday.  You can sign up for any of the weeks.
 
Camp Dates: 
– Session 1:  Monday, July 22- Friday, July 26, 9-12pm
– Session 2: Monday, July 29 – Friday, August 2, 1-4pm
– Session 3: Monday, August 5 – Friday, August 9, 9-12pm
 
Location: Anacostia Community Boathouse, 1900 M Street SE
 
Ages: Rising 7th through 10th graders (or 12 – 16 years olds)
 
Cost: $25
 
Sign-up with the participant’s information in Mindbody under the Juniors Tab by scrolling down to Juniors Summer Learn to Row Camp Session 1, 2, or 3. 
 

Capital Rowing Club’s Summer Learn-to-Row camp offers three- one week-long sessions and meets Monday through Friday.  Sessions 1 and 3 are from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and session 2 is 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  All sessions are at the Anacostia Community Boathouse. Summer Learn-to-Row offers boys and girls, ages 12–17, the chance to learn rowing for the first time, to explore the Anacostia riverfront, and to build teamwork and friendships with students from across all eight DC wards.

The program is taught in a fun and supportive environment, with a goal of developing a solid foundation of rowing skills. Over the course of the week, students:

  • are introduced to basic measures of fitness and strength on the rowing machine (i.e., erg),
  • learn rowing terminology and how to handle equipment, and
  • develop a basic set of rowing skills.

Training takes place on CRC ergs and on CRC barges (i.e., eight-person training boats). The daily schedule includes warm-ups, on-the-water instruction and practice, and land-based team- and strength-building activities. On the last day of camp, students have an opportunity to race in a friendly, intramural environment. Afterward, we celebrate our achievements with an outdoor pizza party at the boathouse.

Capital Rowing strives to ensure cost doesn’t preclude participation.  If you need a Scholarship for this program please email juniors_rep@capitalrowing.org

 

RaceRoundUp: Head of the Schuylkill 2017

Capital returned this year to the Head of the Schuylkill, after not having sent the full team in a few years. Juniors and Masters brought their A-game and had a great time even in the rain!

Masters

 

  • Event 06A – Men’s Master’s 4+ (27-39) – 3rd & 9th
  • Event 14A – Mens’ Master’s 8+ (27-39) – 2nd
  • Event 16B – Men’s Doubles (40-49) – 3rd
  • Event 31B – Mixed Master’s Doubles (27-39) – 4th

#tbt a little rain never hurt anyone @hosr1970 #capitalrowingclub #allthe1xladies

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Juniors

  • Event 24A – Men’s High School Varsity 1x – 35th & 39th
  • Event 24C – Women’s High School Varsity 1x – 12th
  • Event 25A – Men’s High School Varsity 4+ – 52nd
  • Event 25B – Women’s High School Varsity 4+ – 42nd and 47th
  • Event 28A – Men’s High School Novice 8+ – 46th
  • Event 28B – Women’s High School Novice 8+ – 36th
  • Event 30C – Women’s Highs School Varsity Quad – 27th
  • Event 33A – Men’s High School Varsity 8+ – 53rd
  • Event 33B – Women’s High School Varsity 8+ – 35th
  • Event 37B – Women’s High School JV 8+ – 31st