Area residents train at Va. rowing camp

PARKERSBURG – Seven adult members from the Ohio Valley Rowing Club recently attended one of the top rowing camps in the country, Calm Waters Rowing Camp in Lancaster, Va.

Now, the local residents want to teach the rowing techniques they learned in Virginia to area residents.

Les Pritchard, a former Parkersburg High School oarsman and active rower, arranged for the group to make the trip. The other experienced oarsman was John Wiseman, another former PHS rower who began rowing again last year.

The others were novice rowers. The group worked out this winter at the rowing club on 19th Street along the Ohio River in Parkersburg using the Nautilus equipment and rowing machines called Ergs. The rowers believe in cross training and belong to the Blennerhassett Bicycle Club, Pritchard said.

According to Pritchard, the group was looking for a camp that would provide a full range of coaching for both experienced and novice rowers. They also wanted a camp that specialized in masters sculling.

Sculling is different than the large four- or eight-person boats because it involves two oars and is usually rowed in single- or two-person boats.

Calm Waters Rowing exceeded the local rowers expectations, Pritchard said. The group stayed at The Inn at Levelfields, which is Calm Waters’ headquarters. The inn was built in 1857 as a plantation residence and is one of the last Antebellum mansions to be built in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Pritchard said.

“The food was excellent and the coaching even better,” he said.

The owners and coaches of Calm Waters Rowing are John Dunn and Charlotte Hollings.

They use a low-key supportive approach to teaching rowing, Pritchard said.

Dunn fell in love with rowing while a freshman at Cornell University. He excelled at the sport and in his sophomore year won the National Collegiate Championship in a heavyweight eight.

After college Dunn rowed for the U.S. National Team and then coached the women’s varsity crews at Cornell for 18 years. His wife, Charlotte, started rowing in high school and then coached at Cornell.

Hollings also rowed for the U.S. National Team and won a world championship in a women’s four. She competes in masters races and is one of the top women scullers in the country.

The local group rowed for four days, which included three rowing and coaching sessions each day. The group watched videos of themselves rowing and videos of Olympic and National team scullers.

The coaches provided comments during the videos and knew several of the athletes. The local novices said they can now row a boat comfortably and have learned the basic techniques of sculling.

The experienced rowers learned some techniques used in top-level competition and are working to master them, Pritchard said.

The rowers from the Ohio Valley Rowing Club will be on the water most weekday mornings and evenings, as well as Saturday morning. They are looking for experienced and novice rowers to join them, Pritchard said.