Special Olympics Michigan Officials Eye Indoor Rowing

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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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  1. Susan Bradley on February 12, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Hello; My name is Susan Bradley and my son is Robert (39) Bradley. He has participated in S. O. Basketball and Baseball. Team sport really give him difficulty. He rows on the lake where we live (Port Perry, Ontario, Lake Scugog). This is great but I was wondering if Indoor Rowing has become a Sp. Olympics Sport? Rob was diagnosed at 31 as being Autistic. I would appreciate any help you could give us. Thank you, susan Bradley

    • UCanRow2 on February 27, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      Hi Susan! We are HUGE fans of the Special Olympics and have been working diligently for more than 7 years on a dream of seeing it be an official SO sport. We are over-the-moon excited to be working with Concept2 on a huge indoor rowing demonstration area at the Special Olympics 2014 USA games, this coming June in Princeton. Stay tuned around then, we’ll be posting lots of pics for sure.

      We would love to see rowing come to Ontario, too, and if we can help with that in any way let us know. You might like to see the video that we did on the competition at the Michigan Special Olympics, which is here: http://vimeo.com/37811117. We think it really tells the story of what a great activity this is for these athletes, both as a competitive outlet and for lifelong fitness.

      Row on!!!

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