FISA Retraction on Adaptive Rowing a Call to Action

The decision by the international rowing federation FISA to keep on-water rowing for cognitively impaired athletes out of the 2012 Paralympic Games should spur supporters of adaptive rowing to work even harder to promote that area of the sport, says UCanRow2‘s Terry Smythe.

FISA announced in a news release that it was retracting an earlier decision to include cognitively impaired rowers in the 2012 Paralympics, saying that after surveying member national federations “there was not yet an adequate number of federations ready or able to prepare crews in time for 2012.”

“Clearly this is a disappointing ruling,”  Smythe said, “but what all of us who support adaptive rowing need to do now is come together and rally behind the many people and organizations working with cognitively impaired athletes.”

Competitive events that support adaptive indoor rowers, including the cognitively impaired, should be supported now more than ever, she added, as they help identify athletes with potential to be competitive on the water.

Smythe applauded FISA’s statement that it continues to have a “very strong commitment to make its sport available for individuals with physical or intellectual disabilities.”

“Particularly for adaptive athletes, rowing can be life altering because it is a sport they can participate in almost like anyone else,” said Smythe, who has worked with adaptive populations of all kinds for more than a decade.   “We need to do everything we can to assure the sport’s continued growth so that as many people as possible can benefit from the joys of rowing in general, and competing specifically.”

The adaptive category is the fastest-growing area within the sport of rowing.  In the past three years activity at clubs that offer on-water and indoor adaptive rowing has grown steadily and on-water regattas have quadrupled.

Indoor rowing machine events, meanwhile, are growing their adaptive numbers in some cases and adding adaptive categories in others: The annual C.R.A.S.H.-B. Sprints, the marquis world indoor rowing championship, welcomed adaptive athletes for the first time in February 2010 and drew 38 participants from three countries.

“At UCanRow2 we say that ‘Rowing is for Every Body,’” Smythe said.  “If we all keep that mantra in mind as we continue to work hard adaptive rowing will prevail, and thrive.”

Keweenaw Rowing Video Now Available on

Pulling Together: The Little Community that Could, the documentary that highlights the Keweenaw Memorial Rehabilitation and Fitness Center and its participation in the Concept2 North American Rowing Challenge (now the World Rowing Challenge) is now available on the website.

The documentary chronicles how a diverse group of residents (including adaptive rowers) of the small town of Houghton, Michigan, came together in 2007 to beat out competitors from around the country and take top honors in the rowing challenge sponsored by Concept 2, maker of the world’s leading rowing machine.

Special Olympics Michigan Officials Eye Indoor Rowing

The efforts of UCanRow2’s Terry Smythe to make rowing on an indoor rowing machine an official Special Olympics sport has drawn the attention of Special Olympics Michigan officials.  In a story summarizing indoor rowing at this year’s Special Olympics Michigan Summer Games the Daily Mining Gazette featured the progress that has been made in the three years since Terry began working towards that goal as part of her role as fitness director for Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital.Terry Smythe helps a Special Olympian with indoor rowing at the Michigan Summer Games

While it is a lengthy process, Terry is confident the goal is attainable.  The first step is for rowing to become an official sport of Special Olympics Michigan, where indoor rowing as been a demonstration event since 2007.  The next step is to present a report to Special Olympics officials summarizing the results of the last three years, with the goal of making indoor rowing an official sport in the Michigan Special Olympics.  After that Terry hopes to use that as a precedent to expand the sport to the national Special Olympics level.

“The country really looks to Michigan for their Special Olympics program,” she said in the Mining Gazette story.

At the Michigan summer games at Central Michigan University hundreds of children of all ages filed through a room equipped with Concept 2 rowing machines to try their hand at rowing 500-meter races against their fellow competitors.  The competitors The indoor rowing machine is easily adapted for all kinds of  users.  Here a Special Olympian in a wheelchair tries it out. were able to race in virtual rowing shells projected on a huge screen set up in the race venue.

Making rowing on a rowing machine an official sport of the Special Olympics would help bring the activity to a broader group of people, Terry said, in addition to raising the standard of excellence for training and performance, which would help advance the sport generally.

The rowing machine is particularly well-suited to Special Olympics athletes because it is fully accommodates each athlete’s level of fitness and ability, while providing a fun and challenging workout.  Athletes return to the rowing venue year after year because they enjoy the special combination of rhythmic synchronicity and physical challenge that the sport of indoor rowing offers.

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UCanRow2 Brings Indoor Rowing to Michigan Special Olympics

For the 3rd straight year, indoor rowing will be front and center at the Special Olympics Michigan Summer Games, being held June 3-5th on the campus of Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, MI.

Aspirus Keweenaw Fitness Center and UCanRow2 offer indoor rowing as an open, demonstration sport at the Games, which attract more than 5,000 athletes, coaches, chaperones and volunteers from nearly every county in MicUCanRow2 is bringing indoor rowing to hundreds of athletes at the Michigan Special Olympics Summer Games 2010higan.  Athletes from children to adults participate in 11 types of competition at the annual event, including swimming, bowling, weightlifting and volleyball.

Over two full days of competition at the rowing venue hundreds of athletes, novices and seasoned veterans alike, will row 500-meter pieces on a Concept2 rowing machine. The top three adult and youth men and women will be recognized with award certificates and prizes.  Participation in rowing has grown every year, and is expected to be higher this year as well.  The inclusion of indoor rowing in the event is supported this year, as in the past, by Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital.

The rowing machine is particularly well-suited to Special Olympics athletes because it is fully accommodates each athlete’s level of fitness and ability, while providing a fun and challenging workout.  Athletes return to the rowing venue year after year because they enjoy the special combination of rhythmic synchronicity and physical challenge that the sport offers.

The State Summer Games is one of seven annual statewide competitions for the athletes of Special Olympics Michigan. The Special Olympics Michigan programs are offered at no cost to the athletes or their families.

Concept2 Trainer Certification Classes Now Available Through UCanRow2

If you’re serious about using Concept2 indoor rowing equipment in your facility it’s important that you know how to teach your students to properly use the rower, identify and correct errors in technique, and maintain the equipment.  Concept2’s one-day Indoor Rowing Foundations basic instructor certification gives you the information you need to build workouts that are technically sound, fun and provide great results for every population with which you work.  The trainings are offered at locations across the country; visit the Instructor Certification page to learn about upcoming sessions and how to register.