What is Learn to Row?

Learn to Row (L2R) is a British Rowing affiliated course, aimed at bringing you from complete novice, to aspiring rower.  Run over six weeks, the course takes you in stages through all the basic techniques of rowing, building up to a competitive, regatta-style race to finish off with a final hurrah.

Each learn to row course is instructed by two of our experienced coaches in our stable quad boats. There are 7 other learners in addition to yourself. Initially we will go through the basics on dry land before taking the boats down to the water at the southern tip of Windermere.  You will get more time on the water each week as your skills develop.

Where and when is it?

All our Learn to Row courses are run from our club at the National Trust’s Fell Foot Park, Newby Bridge.

We offer courses during the summer months on various days of the week and at various times to hopefully suit everyone.

How much is it?

The course costs £80.  For this, you get six, 2 hour sessions.  Our courses are run by our team of highly qualified Level 2 coaches and Learn to Row instructors to give you top-notch coaching in technique, boat handling and safety.

Before you sign up

Please review the questions below to check that rowing is for you.

Questions to help you decide:

Do I need the fitness level of an Olympic athlete to enjoy rowing?

No, not unless you want to row in the Olympics. We have club members who train hard to compete at a high level but we also have lots of recreational rowers who just enjoy being on the water with friends, getting a little exercise.  There are opportunities to compete in novice races where the emphasis is mainly on fellowship and fun but be warned, recreational rowers can sometimes discover a hidden competitive side!

Are there any physical constraints that will prevent me enjoying rowing?

Do take a look at the video above to get an idea of what is involved and how your body needs to move. The main things to think about are:

  • Body shape – We really want to welcome everyone not just tall, young, slim athletic types , but body shape can be a real issue.  The video above will give you an idea of how far you need to reach forward when rowing and how you need to bring your hands into your chest at the end of each stroke.  We find that people carrying too much bulk are unable to compress their bodies sufficiently and can only manage a restricted short stroke which obviously limits their ability to propel the boat and is a particular problem when rowing as part of a crew. If you can’t row a decent length of stroke then your oars will risk becoming entangled with those of the rowers in front and behind you. Weight is not an issue in our training boats but our more advanced boats do have weight restrictions so progress in the longer term may be severely limited.
  • Flexibility – You need to be able to bend to get into and out of the boat and to row effectively. Can you touch your toes or at least your shins!
  • Balance – Do you have a reasonable sense of balance. Can you put your socks on standing up? Think about your ability to get into a small boat and sit down whilst maintaining control of your balance.
  • Co-ordination – Rowing well is really difficult. Absolutely everyone struggles to begin with and even the best rowers will tell you that they are still aiming for that elusive perfect stroke.  Try patting your head whilst rubbing your tummy and then multiply that sensation by 10!

Is there an upper age limit?

No, we have taught lots of people to row well beyond retirement age.

Is rowing dangerous?

There is an element of risk with all water sports but on the course, you will be rowing in our “Stable” boats which are much broader than the racing boats you will have seen at the Olympics or the University boat race. They are very safe and extremely unlikely to capsize.  We ask that you self-certify that you can swim 50 metres in light clothing OR we will ask you to wear a life jacket.  You will receive a full safety briefing before we go afloat and safety is our prime concern throughout your course and beyond but there is a chance that you will find yourself in the water at some stage.  If that really concerns you then don’t row!

Is rowing likely to aggravate an injury and what about medical conditions?

Rowing is a low impact sport which exercises the whole body. We will teach you correct technique to minimise the risk of injury.  We sometimes find that the development of better posture through rowing is actually helpful to people with back niggles.  If you are concerned speak to us and if you have serious issues do speak to your doctor before committing yourself to a Learn to Row course.

Is there a pass or fail?

No. We want everyone who completes a Learn to Row course to have the opportunity to continue their membership of the club.  Very occasionally we find someone who really cannot get it.  In those extremely rare circumstances, we reserve the right not to offer continuing membership.  We feel that they will never really enjoy rowing and will quickly become bored with a lack of progression.  It is also difficult to ask other club members to share a boat with someone unable to master the basics.

How much time do I need for rowing?

To be a competent rower attending at least one or two sessions a week in the first few months is recommended. We row at various times of the day including evenings in the summer months and on Saturday and Sunday mornings. All sessions are 2 hours long allowing time to get the boats on the water, have a good row and clean and rack the boats at the end.

Some of our sessions are coached and structured to allow rowers at various ability levels to row together and receive further appropriate instruction.  You will be encouraged to join our “Development Sessions” which are designed specifically as a follow-on from your Learn to Row course. Some sessions are labelled as “Social” when any member can sign up and just row for fun – an excellent way to meet more of our members.

What is the most important thing to bring with me?

A sense of fun. If rowing wasn’t enjoyable, we wouldn’t do it.  There will be lots of laughs as you and your crew struggle to get to grips with this challenging activity.  Whether they continue rowing after the course or not, everyone tells us how much they enjoy the experience.

How do I sign up?

A full list of our courses and availability can be found by contacting our Learn to Row coordinator at windermereL2R’at’gmail.com. If you can’t make all six sessions then it may still be possible for you to join a course.  Please contact us and ask.

If you are still not sure, why not get in touch and arrange to pay us a visit at Fell Foot.  We will happily show you what is involved and answer any questions you may have.