Lady of the Lake: Row Row Row Your Boat

You could row your boat gently down the river as the song suggests or you could join up with seven other rowers and row in synchronicity through the water. I reconnected with the Knoxville Rowing Association ( a few weeks ago and rowed in a beautiful sweep rowing boat for the first time in a year.

To describe what I had embarked upon, I turned to USRowing's definition at "Athletes with only one oar are sweep rowers. Sweep boats may or may not carry a coxswain (pronounced cox-n) to steer and be the on-the-water coach. In boats without coxswains, one of the rowers steers by moving the rudder with his or her foot. Sweep rowers come in pairs with a coxswain (2+) and pairs without (2-), fours with a coxswain (4+) and fours without (4-) and the eight (8+), which always carries a coxswain. The eight is the fastest boat on the water. A world-level men's eight is capable of moving almost 14 miles per hour."

We did not move any where near 14 mph, mostly because I was rusty and my rhythm was off. I took their weekend training workshop last year and only rowed a few times afterward. I thought it might be much like riding a bicycle and some of it was. Rowing teaches many things: the powerful value of group effort, and that one person who is a tad off can effect everything about the movement of the boat. It taught patience and compassion, for no one is perfect. It revealed how difficult it is for me to get into a groove and stick with one thing at a time. When I messed up the rhythm it was like a wrong note blaring out from a beautiful classical piece of music. Thank goodness the KRA had more patience with me than I had for myself.

On a good note, when the rhythm of all the rowers was synchronized, the feeling and the movement was sublime. It was like zoning out for a moment and only sensing one thing. You really can't think about much else, but just to focus on the rhythm and feel the boat slice through the water. It is an amazing way to experience our river.

There is another way to experience our river with loads of others and celebrate clean water. It is the Fort Loudoun Lake Association's 7th annual Paddle for Clean Water event coming up this Saturday, Aug. 24. FLLA has partnered with three major river sports outfitters to offer kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards for the novice to the professional. Blue Ridge Mountain Sports, River Sports Outfitters, and Billy Lush Brand paddle board company are collaborating in celebration of recreation on our lake. It is an opportunity for those who know, and those who do not know, how fun our lake is.

The paddle starts with check-in at Sequoyah Park from 8:30 to 9 a.m. and shuttling the participants to Ned McWherter Park under the James White Parkway bridge. There will be a safety patrol in and out of the water. The fun begins around 10 a.m. when everyone will be leisurely paddling down the river back to Sequoyah Park where there will be a live DJ, goody bags, T-shirts, giveaways, and a raffle. The after-party begins around 1 p.m. at the Bearden Beer Market, where the first beer is free for participants.

This is a fun event that brings awareness of trash eradication to our community—to stop litter wherever they are. Come and play with us on the river!

Angela Howard is the director of the Fort Loudoun Lake Association. Contact her at