Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Royal Canadian Henley

It’s that time of year again, Henley! The Royal Canadian Henley is celebrating its 127th year. We live right across the street from the grandstands. It is usually quiet in our condo in Port Dalhousie, this morning we woke up to the sound of the horn at the finish line. As each crew finished their race a horn blows. To me it is a fabulous sound.

For many summers I belonged to a recreational rowing crew. While “recreational” is its title because of the festivities following the races, no one is fooled. No matter the ability level, each crew gets competitive once the race starts. The sound of that horn means we finally reached the finish line and my body can recover. Rowing may look like a relaxing sport to the casual observer, but anyone who has tried it knows at the end of a race your leg and arm muscles are burning, your lungs are gasping for air but your heart is singing because you have accomplished something with your team that feels like nothing else. Rowing is definitely a team sport, no heroes allowed, everyone has to be equally as good or you might end up rowing in circles (literally).

Time commitments have not allowed me to stay involved at the crew level but I still volunteer once a year at the grandstands. It is a great job. While I can’t actually see any of the rowing from my post, I get to meet people from all over the world as they gather to cheer on their friends and family. I have also been a hockey mom for many years but rowing is special. I have yet to witness an argument or unsportsmanlike conduct at a rowing regatta.

My daughter Kaitlin facebooked me this morning very excited. She made weight! All summer long she has been struggling to lose those last 5 pounds. This is not a vanity issue. Her race is tomorrow and she must weigh in below 130 pounds. If she doesn’t make weight she can’t race and her whole crew is disqualified. Talk about peer pressure. Kaitlin has been waking up each day this summer at 4:30 a.m. She has been on the water from 5:30-7:00 a.m. Then she works at her summer job all day and afterwards is back on the water or else at the Y working out. Regattas have been on week-end days and her serving job in Niagara Falls on week-end nights. Somewhere in there she has even managed to have a social life. Hopefully she will qualify tomorrow to make it to the finals on Sunday. Sunday finals at Henley is a huge deal.

No matter what place her crew crosses that finish line, I will be proud of her. She has exhibited discipline, physical exertion and team camaraderie. These skills will serve her well throughout her life.

Rowing………….there is no sport like it.

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