30for30: Honoring Bob Day

By Leah Krynicky, 30th Anniversary Committee Co-Chair

You may have noticed an exciting new change to Capital’s summer regatta. In honor of the Anacostia rowing and paddling community’s most committed and hardworking champion, we are officially christening the Robert E. Day, Jr. Capital Sprints.

Bob Day had a lifelong passion for crew, and we have Bob to thank for every stroke we take on the Anacostia. In fact, every person who takes a stroke—whether from a shell, dragon boat, or canoe—on our stretch of the river has Bob to thank.

Bob Day had a vision to bring rowing to the Anacostia. Following his retirement, Bob founded the Organization for Anacostia Rowing and Sculling (OARS) in 1988, introducing students from Anacostia Senior High School and Frederick Douglass Junior High School to rowing.

Capital Rowing Club began as a community rowing organization the same year, originally rowing out of Thompson’s Boat Center on the Potomac River. In need of more space, Capital was looking for a new home in 1995, and OARS invited us to join them on the Anacostia. We began our decades-long partnership with Bob based on our mutual love of rowing and our dedication to making it accessible to all in the community.

Along with OARS and two other organizations, Capital became a founding member of the Anacostia Community Boathouse Association (ACBA). In 2010, Capital and other members of ACBA moved to our current site from which we train and compete. Bob remained active in the ACBA community, often accompanied to the boathouse by his best friend and wife Diana.

Capital’s sprint regatta began fourteen years ago as a scrimmage among cross-town rivals and has grown into a summer racing tradition for rowing teams all over the DC area and up and down the East Coast. Each year, more than 200 youth and adult athletes with various abilities compete in more than 30 rowing categories during the daylong event.

Bob’s vision has led to a thriving community of more than 1,000 athletes of all ages and experience levels from 9 community, high school, and university programs. It is through his efforts that we all are able to challenge our physical and mental strength; experience the highs and lows of practices; build comradery and confidence through competition; and enjoy crisp mornings, hot afternoons, and beautiful sunrises and sunsets while rowing on the Anacostia.

The Capital community is honored to fondly call Bob Day a friend, and we are proud to remember him each year at the Robert E. Day, Jr. Capital Sprints regatta.

30for30: Learning to Row

Andy Waiters is the head coach of the Learn to Row Program. He has also coached with the Juniors Program, and rows with many of the programs at Capital. You can usually find him out in his single whenever he has a free moment.

Capital recently ended its first Learn to Row class of the year, after ten days of introducing the basics to people who had never sat in a boat or touched an oar. This day was very similar to other tenth days, as we set lineups, got boats down, warmed up on the water and headed toward the big tree, the starting line we use for our Learn to Row races. After getting boats aligned, Coach Nicole and I went over general things they should be thinking about at this point, then got ready to trail the boats in the launches. I called “Attention, Row,” and they were off! To both our amazement the boats were moving pretty well, matching swing timing and best of all finding pretty good set, allowing for some really clean strokes. Those folks have now moved on to Intermediate Novice and are continuing to find their stroke.

I never would have imagined that I would have become a Learn to Row coach when I was going through the program with Coaches Bob Brady and Megan Silke in 2011, but the opportunity arose and here I am. One of the coolest parts of the class is getting to hear a little about where the new rowers are coming from, geographically and athletically. After we go around the group for introductions, we pretty quickly set all that aside. There is too much to cover over the ten days. Learning this sport also levels the playing field for everyone because it requires so much physically and mentally and includes concepts that are different than anything they’ve ever done before.

I also love hearing how people ended up in the class. When we go through introductions on the first day, we ask everyone how they learned about us. We always get a wide range of responses. Some heard about the class from a friend or coworker who went through the class, and some are former runners or swimmers who were looking for another competitive outlet.  I think my favorite response is and will always be “my mom made me do it.”

As registration fills for these classes, I always like to keep an eye on it just so I can get a general idea of what the makeup of the class will be. I’ve found that over the past three years the range of ages that are showing interest in rowing has increased. We’ve had middle schoolers and high schoolers looking to get a jump start on the season with their school or the Capital Juniors, but we’ve also had folks in their 60s and 70s looking for a way to stay active. It has been so rewarding to be able to work with people from so many different walks of life.

People find us in different ways but they keep finding us. As a short, black, gay rower, I am really encouraged by the traction the sport is getting in our small city and by how much more inclusive it has become over the years. There are so many opportunities for people to learn to row in DC, especially at the Anacostia Community Boathouse. Whether it’s one of Capital’s annual classes, DC Strokes’ Learn to Row program, We Can Row DC, Athletes Without Limits, Capital Adaptive, Capital Juniors, or DC Strokes Youth, people are spreading the word!

30for30: Feel It

Karen Zareski is a member of Club PM. She signed up for Capital’s Learn to Row program on a whim, and was lucky enough to find a community and a passion.

Five years ago, I learned to row at Capital. I am still—and always will be—learning. My body does not always respond rapidly to the coaches’ direction; I grind in improvements season by season. In winter, I convince myself to stay on a rowing machine with the promise of spring.  In spring, I am overjoyed to be back on the water. I recommit to fixing imperfections and count the weeks until our first regatta.

It is summer now, and we sweat as we lift the boats into the water. Sometimes there is whining about the heat and humidity. Often I am the one whining. Shortly after we launch, however, we settle into the rhythm. The only way to make progress is to focus on the fundamentals of timing, technique, and power. There is no space left to worry about to-do lists or tomorrow’s meetings.  Each practice is an opportunity for a mental and physical reset.

We pass kayakers and canoers, novice sailors and party boat cruisers. A home run cheer from Nationals Stadium can provide heady impetus for a touch more swing from the hips, more power from the quads. We focus on the back of the rower in front of us, striving for the ineffable swing that takes a row to the sublime. In the last few strokes of practice, our boat surges forward. We return to the dock at twilight, ready for happy hour and ever more discussion of rowing.

In autumn, the river is ours alone. The quiet is broken by our cox and our coach. The catch of the oar, the slide of the seat, the solidity of the finish. When we row well, the water rushes beneath us. In the dark, we must rely even more on what our coaches have taught us:

Strength matters. Timing matters more. Row through the waves, the wakes, the wind. Stay solid through the core. Relax your shoulders, and pull through each stroke’s finish. Let the boat come to you rather than rushing forward and checking its progress. Find the water with your blade. If you miss a stroke, fix it on the next. Feel the boat. Focus on the teammate in front of you. Sit up.  Feel it.

National Learn to Row Day — 2018

Have you ever wanted to learn more about rowing? Come down to Capital Rowing Club for National Learn to Row Day on June 2 from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm.
We’ll teach you the basics of rowing, offer a boathouse tour and get you out on the river! Bring your friends and family and come on down and see what rowing is all about!
Date: June 2nd
Time: 12pm – 3pm
Location: Anacostia Community Boathouse, 1900 M Street SE, Washington, DC

Juniors Summer Learn-to-Row Camp

Learn rowing at Capital Rowing Club in a free one week summer camp! No previous experience is needed. The camp will run for a half-day Monday – Friday, with the option of doing additional weeks during the summer. You can sign up for any of the weeks.
For best consideration, please fill out the interest form by May 1, 2018.
APPLICATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED FOR 2018.
Camp Dates: 
– Session 1: Monday, July 9 – Friday, July 13
– Session 2: Monday, July 16 – Friday, July 20
– Session 3: Monday, July 23 – Friday, July 27
– Session 4: Monday, July 30 – Friday, August 3
Time: 9am-12pm
Location: Anacostia Community Boathouse, 1900 M Street SE
Ages: Rising 7th through 10th graders (or 12 – 16 years olds)
Cost: Free

Capital Rowing Club’s Summer Learn-to-Row camp is offered free to participants and comprises four week-long sessions and meets Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. 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.

For more information, please email juniors_rep@capitalrowing.org