Adaptive Sports: The Rowing Edition

They say that by staying active, you’ll have a higher likelihood of staying healthy.

So, when you’re not out running errands with your family and friends in your new or used handicap van, what can you do to stay active?

Adaptive sports are not only a great way to socialize, they’re perfect for tackling the need to stay active.

And, while you’ve probably heard about adaptive bowling, dancing, and even snowboarding, you may not have heard of possibly one of the oldest adaptive sports out there: rowing.

The History of Adaptive Rowing

Adaptive Rowing began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania just after the end of World War II. Veterans that were blinded during the war competed in an Army vs. Navy adaptive rowing competition. And, thus the sport was born.

While various efforts were made to keep the sport alive, and some programs and clinics did happen post-WWII, the sport didn’t truly stick until 1980 with the creation of the first rowing club solely for people with disabilities.

What is Adaptive Rowing?

Adaptive Rowing is extremely similar to the competitive sport known in the United States as Crew. The sport focuses on propelling a boat through the water using oars and racing against other boats.

The only differences for Adaptive Rowing is the equipment used to keep the wheelchair user in place on the boat and the distance of the race. A regular crew race is 2000 meters, while an adaptive race is 1000 meters.

Adaptive Equipment Used for Rowing

If a rower doesn’t have the use of their legs, a fixed seat is required instead of a sliding seat. The user is strapped both to the fixed seat around their waist and also to the boat around their feet.

This is to prevent the rower from falling off the boat, and to ensure they only use their midsection and arms, or arms and shoulders to compete.

It’s important that fixed seat rowers use the proper boat for a fixed seat, as the proper boat will ensure the boat cannot be capsized.

Have you ever participated in a clinic or program for adaptive crew? What was your experience like? Let us know by joining the conversation in the comments below!

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