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Something Social: Delta Deas Rowing Club

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A metaphor often used for teamwork is the image of a rowing quad, pulling together in unity and with precision, the strength of the group relying on every member giving their all.

Susan Macdonald of the Delta Deas Rowing Club can appreciate the metaphor all the more because she rows competitively with her quad teammates, Mick Bates, Sandi Gauvin and Jim Norris.

“It’s very much a mental sport as well as a physical one, so you have to connect that way for the crew to gel,” explains Susan. “So over time you find those people you work well with and you pair up for crews.”

Susan began rowing 12 years ago at the age of 45 but in rowing not only is beginning at that age rather common, it’s still quite young. Her quad is composed of rowers all over the age of 55, while her mixed doubles partner Mick, who started rowing at 15, is still a beast on the oars at 67.

Unlike other sports which can be quite demanding on certain parts of the body, rowing is aerobic and anaerobic so it doesn’t put stress on any one area, explains Susan. It strengthens the overall body and so people are able to pick it up later in life and carry on well into their senior years.

“You can do it regardless of your age. We have a fellow here who participated in two Olympics for Germany and he’s in his late 80s now and was rowing up until a few years ago,” says Susan.

Even though he’s not able to row anymore, some of the club members will pick him up in White Rock and bring him to the club to socialize and go out for coffee afterwards.

The social aspect is also a big draw for Susan. She says it’s more than just a club, it’s a community that supports one another outside rowing, going to weddings and graduations and helping out when somebody falls ill.

“I love the water, there’s something about the water that I’m really attracted to. But I think, too, this is a very social club. I was really attracted to the people.”

When Susan joined she saw other moms her age and was able to organize rowing crews of similar age and experience, so learning and improving wasn’t at all intimidating. She also loves the idea that regardless of what people do in their careers or personal lives, once they get on the water they become one in their goals and passion for rowing.

Even in singles rowing there’s a heavy team component as they will still train with fellow rowers, and every rower will still have a coach on the water helping with strokes and offering instruction.

It may not be widely known, but people with disabilities are also able to participate in rowing. The club is supported by Rowing BC in providing an “adaptive rowing program” for people who make use of a wheelchair. On the day in which I visited the club, no fewer than three adaptive rowers were out on the water having fun.

Fun is a key word. Despite the competitive nature of many of these rowers who participate in Regattas throughout the year, Susan says there are times to just get on the water and revel in the beauty of the Deas Slough.

“We row in the evenings and sometimes the wind dies down and the water is glassy calm and you really end up paying attention to the wildlife. We never take for granted the beauty of the place on a really beautiful day.”

The eagles soaring overhead, the herons in the shallows or the seals swimming alongside the boats add an element of wonder to this sport.
“It does so much for the soul to get out there and just take that time to be here in this beautiful environment with other people.”

To learn more or sign up for a beginner course visit deltadeas.com.

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