*** Learn to Row ***

Applications are now open for ASRA's Learn to Row Summer programme


 Application Form 



How do I find out about learning to row?

There are three ways that any young person in the Aberdeen area can learn to row with ASRA.

If you attend one of the secondary schools already working with the club then you can take part in what is known as the Dry Start/Wet Start programme. In either early autumn or spring there begins a series of lunchtime indoor training sessions held in school. Here the basic techniques of rowing are taught on rowing machines provided by the club. Then you will move on to a few weeks of coming down after school to the boathouse on the River Dee where you will learn to row on the water, after which you can join the club if you wish.

Secondly, the club runs one week 'Learn to Row' courses, usually in the school holidays at Easter and in the summer. This is one way of getting out on the water really quickly, and is often a great way to get to know current members of the club as they will be helping you out in the boats.
Finally, you can just come down to one of our training sessions held throughout the week from the boathouse by the River Dee. This is usually best done in the early autumn as this gives the coaches plenty of time over winter to see how well you can row before the big competitions start in the early spring. The weekend sessions are split into two groups, dependant on age, so the best way to find out when to turn up is to check out the training timetable on the website.

How hard can it be? Will I have to train at every session through the week?

Well, the best way to answer the first question would be to ask you one in return: how much do you want to get out of rowing?
If all you want is to spend some time outdoors with people of your own age, learning a new sport and getting a little bit healthier, then it really isn't that hard at all. You will find yourself going out in boats where the crews will probably vary quite a lot, and your sessions will involve improving as much as you want to: no pressure.

If the bug bites, however, you may find that you want to take this sport a lot more seriously! You might recognise that you could have a lot of potential; you may look around the boathouse and see all the medals, plaques, trophies and awards that show just some of the glory that can be had as a successful Aberdeen rower. Then you will work towards attending more training sessions, pushing yourself that bit harder every time, and hopefully you will gain a seat in one of the boats put forward to compete in regattas.

That's where the second question posed above can be answered. A full week's training programme would include a two hour session on Saturday and Sunday (and unfortunately the Dee is a tidal river, so these times vary greatly). There is a 'strength and conditioning' session for the more senior members on Monday nights, and further two hour training sessions on Tuesday and Thursday. To begin with, you would most likely come to either a Tuesday or Thursday session, as well as both the weekend sessions.

How expensive will it be? I'm not sure my parents can afford it.

Well, the Dry Start/Wet Start scheme wouldn't cost you anything, the Learn to Row weeks usually cost around £40 for a five day course, and if you are just coming down to join in with a normal session then you will be given a few free tries. If you decide to join the club then your first year's membership fee will be £95, after that each year costs around £125. Basic sports gear would be all that you need to train: shorts, t-shirts, trainers (and lots of warm layers for winter training!).

If you decide that you would like to take part in competitions then each one does involve some cost. There is the cost of transporting the rowers and equipment to wherever the regatta is being held, the entry fees, any hotel costs and of course, for anyone building up a huge appetite through exercise, food. All these costs are shared evenly amongst those travelling, including any coaches escorting the group. Except for food; only you will know just how many loaves of bread you can consume in one sitting!

Don't be scared of telling your parents this; equally don't be scared of telling one of the coaches if your family would struggle to meet all of these costs. No really talented rower should be disadvantaged in this way, and the club would do all it can to help.

The bit for the parents to read!

If your child is interested in learning to row, or if you just have some gut instinct that it could be the sport for them, then do all you can to encourage them. Rowers tend to be amongst the fittest young people you could ever meet, and the way that ASRA is set up means that they will pick up skills that they can use moving forward as young adults. They will learn to work as a team, co-ordinating themselves to get the boats on and off the water. They will quickly grasp that if their boat isn't well maintained and looked after then they will spend more time fixing it than they will rowing in it! And the experience of travelling to major competitions will teach them a lot, not only about achieving personal success, but also about supporting their entire team.

The logistics of getting your child to and from all of these training sessions can seem daunting. However, it's likely that there will be a few other club members that live close to you, and more often than not any rower can get a lift from one of the other parents. Also, as your child gets older, it becomes a good exercise in increasing independence to make their own way to and from the boathouse. (Cycling counts towards extra training, and there is a bike rack for the rowers to secure their bikes.)

The Bottom Line

Kit is an area where there are a few essentials, but they need not all be purchased straight away. Shorts, t-shirts, and trainers are a must; most will have these already. Extra thermal layers are needed once the winter training sessions really kick in. If your child is entered for a competition then club kit is needed (rowers entered by a club must wear that club's kit/colours; this is an official rule, not one invented by ASRA). An all-in-one and ASRA t-shirt will set you back about £45 (with embroidered name), it is up to you if you feel you would like to add to this. On certain occasions it is judged best that the members travel wearing club sweatshirts, so factoring in the cost of a hoodie is advisable. You will notice on the website the section titled Calendar. Here you will find a list of the upcoming year's competition schedule, along with estimated costs.

However, your child will not be entered for every one on this list; not even the top crews at the club will attend every competition. Some are designed for more inexperienced rowers to gain an insight into competition, whilst others are for those rowers who could be expected to perform well at that event's level. For example only those who have shown the commitment and potential to succeed will be invited to attend the training camp in Ghent in the spring, and only the top crews will take part at the National Schools' Championships and the British Championships.

If money is an issue that you feel would prevent you allowing your child to take part then please discuss this with the coaches. There may be ways that the club can help out, either directly, or by helping you find other avenues of financial support. Some of the club's most successful rowers have obtained sponsorship from bodies such as SportScotland, and Aberdeen's schools can also provide some assistance.

One really important point to put across here is just how much is done to keep costs to a minimum. If there is funding to be had, then ASRA's treasurer will be pursuing it. There is only one full-time paid member of the coaching team at present, and his principle role is to develop the sport of rowing through the Dry Start/Wet Start scheme. (Even this has only been made possible through funding from the National Lottery). The rest of the coaching is done by a rotating group of dedicated volunteers. Parent volunteers back these coaches up, providing support during weekend training sessions and organising fund-raising events for the club.

If you have any questions then please get in touch, the coaches are happy to answer questions in regard to training, etc. There are two parent representatives who sit on the committee and they are also happy to help with your queries.