Learn how to row, row, row your boat

The Stewards Foundation is offering three instructional sessions this summer open to anyone.

Published June 9, 2006

When Andrew Zbella, 17, visited schools such as Princeton, Cornell and Duke universities, it didn't take him long to notice that rowing competitions are a big deal in the Ivy Leagues.

With plans to attend a top university and a big love for water, Zbella found himself anxious to master the sport.

He's one of about 50 people signed up for National Learn to Row Day from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Stewards Boat House, 1007 N Boulevard in Riverfront Park.

"I'm hoping it will just teach me some of the basics of rowing and get me started," said Zbella, a senior at Clearwater Central Catholic High School this fall.

Hosted by US Rowing, Concept 2 and the Stewards Foundation, Learn to Row Day is free and open to anyone over 12 years old who wants to get a taste of the sport. The only requirement is knowing how to swim.

"National Learn to Row Day is simply to advance the sport of rowing as broadly as we can," said Denny Antram, vice president of the Stewards Foundation, a Tampa-based nonprofit organization that promotes rowing.

Beginners will learn how to handle a boat and oar and practice on a rowing machine. Then they will hit the water.

"One of the reasons we do Learn to Row Days is to give people, young people, anybody, the opportunity to try it," said Tom Feaster, president of the Stewards Foundation.

Those who like it can come back for more. This summer, the Stewards Foundation offers three, two-week sessions of rowing camp.

The first session started Monday, the second session starts June 19 and the third starts in July.

Prices are $300 for the first session and $75 for additional ones.

The Stewards Foundation built the Stewards boathouse two years ago to provide a place where local high schools and colleges from around the country could practice. The group also uses the boathouse to offer programs for inner-city kids.

To sign up for Saturday's event, call Antram at 205-4013 or e-mail him at dadivot@aol.com

Jonnelle Marte can be reached at jmarte@sptimes.com or 226-3404.