Early morning splashing

By Jon Roe

Have you ever thought to yourself that the best time to be out on the Glenmore Resevoir is 5 a.m.? You might be crazy. Or you might be a member of the University of Calgary rowing club.

“It’s hard,” says club member Christine Sharp. “It’s very hard. Especially when it’s pitch black. [But] the fact that everyone’s doing it, and you’re part of a crew, so, if you’re not there, it’s not only going to hurt your performance, it’s going to hurt the performance of your team. Everyone’s sacrificing something to get there at that hour.”

The U of C rowing club meets early in the morning starting in the summer and continuing throughout their season from September to November, which ends with the Canadian University Rowing Championships. Right now the club is small, running mostly a women’s program with a few male rowers, and young, but despite that they enjoyed success at this year’s CURC in Montreal. The club’s women’s eight squad finished first in the ‘B’ finals, beating out large schools like the University of Toronto and Guelph University, their women’s pair finished fifth in the ‘A’ final and they had a women’s single finish sixth in the ‘A’.

The group self-funds, with a little bit of help from the Students’ Union as a chartered club.

“We’re not a varsity sport, but hopefully within the next couple of years we will have varsity status, we’re working on it right now,” Sharp says.

In order to qualify, they have to hold regional championships for five straight years, which she hopes will happen a few years down the road.

Sharp herself has been rowing for 10 years. She came from St. Catherine’s, Ontario, home of one of North America’s largest regattas, the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta.

“It’s kind of what people do down there,” she says. “My high school had a really big team, and I just kind of stuck with it.”

Success in rowing requires practice, obviously, and a focus on stability and balance.

“The stability of the boat is very important, especially in smaller boats,” Sharp says. “We do a lot of that on the water, but we do train off the water all year round.”

Maybe you are crazy. Maybe the idea of coasting on the rippling resevoir at five in the morning appeals to you. Perhaps upper body strength is something you value or want to improve. Well, you’re in luck. The club recruits year-round and no experience is necessary. All you have to do is e-mail rowing@ucalgary.ca.

“A lot of our crew is actually very new this year, we have a very large novice program,” says Sharp.