Why Wake Early to Row

This spring I moved back to Miami fulltime and began rowing again. My physical therapist, Sinead FitzGibbon, an Irish healer, inspired me. After a bone-shattering fall, Sinead told me to give up riding horses for rowing boats. Uncharacteristically, I listened. Perhaps it was her charming Irish brogue. 

 I had not rowed for years, not since my freshman year at Syracuse. I easily found my sea-legs, the rhythm came back to me like riding a bicycle. Feathering the oars and driving them through the water with the force of my legs and seat was stored in my muscle memory.

 Reconnecting with the sport came at a time when I badly needed it. I was lonely and displaced following my divorce and subsequent move.   

 When I row, my busy mind quiets. I tune into my senses with the sound of the oars, a flash of white water from a jumping fish, the smell of the sea, the salt on my skin.  In the narrow boat built for four, my teammates and I mirror one another’s movements; we pull our weight and encourage each other with words of support.  An incredible feeling of grace and power comes with the rare flawless stroke.

 It is a commitment. We rise early before the sun to get to the boathouse on Indian Creek. We launch in the dark, lock our oars in place, climb in in unison and shove off. We row past dimly lit houses, people sleeping within. Occasionally, we bump into bobbing coconuts, moorings and even dead iguanas. As the sun comes up over Miami Beach, we cruise silently along. 

 The lights of the cars in the distance remind us that we are removed from the busy hard-surfaced world. When we return, we carry the 34' boat to its slings, gather our oars and wash everything down. All is put back in place in the boathouse. By 7:15 am, we are in our cars headed to work or home with a sense of strength, accomplishment and teamwork. We experience all of this before most people have had their first cup of coffee.

Why Wake Early to Row 

  1. It’s a full body workout that strengthens your core.

  2. “Being near, in, on, or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected and better at what you do,” Wallace J Nichols, author of Blue Mind.  

  3. It improves interpersonal communication, including the ability to accept feedback.

  4. A rare sense of interconnectedness that shifts your perspective from “going it alone,” to being an essential member of a team.  

  5. Partners around the world. Master’s rowing clubs welcome visiting rowers and new comers.

  6. Just about zero impact on the environment.