The New York Times recently published a beautiful article about balance in our boats and balance in life! When we read the author's words about her rowing experience, it sparked us to deeply reflect on how sculling has changed our lives over the years.
What has the sport taught you about yourself and about your life?
How has it improved your relationships with others and the relationship with yourself?
Please comment below with your reflections, or share your experience with others.
Take time to reflect, and maybe even write down, the ways our sport has impacted your life.
The more we can talk to others, the more we can change lives through the beautiful and impactful properties that our sport has to offer to everyBODY!
Finding Balance in a Tiny, Wobbly Boat
by Tara Murtha
October 1, 2019
* This article was published in the Wellness section of The New York Times
Rowing is a rigorous workout for the muscles as well as for mindfulness: Not wanting to flip keeps you focused.
I woke up one day a few years ago and realized my life had been reduced to a hamster wheel of deadlines. I worked through nights, weekends, dinner, vacations and almost my marriage. At the time, I thought of strength as endurance and thought I could handle it. My body disagreed.
I’d drag all day long then lie awake in bed at night, overwhelmed by the hot buzzing sensation of intense anxiety. Sometimes I struggled to breathe. I’m being choked to death by the invisible hand of late-stage capitalism, I’d say, only half-kidding.
I knew I needed to get offline, go outside and exercise, but physical activity more intense than yoga or walking made me dry heave and break into a cold sweat. My body was sending a clear message: My typical Type-A style of mowing down deadlines wasn’t working anymore. I needed a new approach.
I spent about a year building strength by doing 20-minute yoga videos. One day I was stretching on a dock by the river near my home in Philadelphia, the Schuylkill, when a dragon boat full of female paddlers pulled up and invited me, a stranger, to join them. Why not? I climbed in and took a paddle. The random experience inspired me to join a dragon-boating team the next year.
I enjoyed being on the river, but dragon-boating means you have to swing your paddle at exactly the same time as everyone else in the boat or you slow everyone else down. I got in shape, but it felt like having to hit dozens of deadlines a minute under a blazing sun.
One day while walking by the river I spotted a single rower peacefully sculling across the water just before sundown and realized that’s where I wanted to be. I didn’t want to try to keep up with other people. I needed to find my own pace.
The next spring, I signed up for a new-member training program at Philadelphia Girls’ Rowing Club. Eight weeks later, I was wobbling down the river in my very own, very tippy-feeling, absurdly tiny boat. It was unsettling to feel as if shifting a few inches the wrong way could flip me face-first into cold water. That whole first summer I nervously stayed close to the shoreline, awkwardly stabbing my oars at the water while watching real rowers glide past me.
Rowing is a physically tough workout but also provides excellent practice in mindfulness. Not wanting to flip is a strong motivation for staying focused on the present moment. Every stroke is an invitation to correct mistakes made during the one before. Rowing is about perpetually starting over.
Slowly, I learned how to stay afloat.
There’s nothing like shoving off the dock at sunrise when the water is calm and still as a mirror. I stretch my arms out like a divining rod and press my legs until the boat glides backward and takes me with it. I do it again, micro-correcting my stroke. Whoosh. A rowing lap on the Schuylkill begins by facing the Philadelphia skyline. I can see the statue of William Penn standing atop City Hall a few blocks from my old office, where I spent countless hours alone staring at words on a computer screen well past midnight. Whoosh. The city disappears behind the river’s bend.
I took up rowing because I needed to get out of my head and into my body but along the way, I realized I was also rowing myself back into the world. I glide beneath a bridge rattling with trains carrying suburban commuters to their offices then begin looking for sunbathing turtles, calm kings perched on rocks along the river’s edge. I check out the ducks. If I’m lucky I glimpse a great blue heron and get to watch this magnificent bird’s slow wingbeat lift its hollow bones into the air.
You can learn a lot about yourself in a boat. Over time, I realized my bad rowing habits reflected the same shortcomings that led to burnout in the first place. I can be anxious and too eager to please, so I often find myself yanking on the oars instead of relying on stronger muscles in my legs and back to do the work. At the end of the stroke, I’m supposed to push my hands away as quickly as possible to set up for what’s called the recovery, meaning the slow slide back up to the stern. It took me months to stop rushing through the recovery, even though you’re supposed to spend more time in recovery than in the more muscular parts of the stroke.
I still catch myself staring at my feet, miserably muscling through the miles instead of maintaining correct posture and lifting my chin enough to gaze at the horizon. When my coach sees me hunched over he laughs and gestures at the trees and blue sky. “Look up! It’s beautiful out here!”
Sometimes I realize I must be doing something wrong because I’m too tired, too soon. I’ve come to recognize exhaustion as an opportunity, an invitation to efficiency.
Like the burnout that led me to row in the first place, feeling exhausted when I have to row two miles back to the dock tells me I need to reconsider my approach, to work smarter, not harder.
Rowing taught me that balance is more important than endurance, and that I can cultivate it.
I work hard now but have a life outside of the office, complete with nights and dinners and vacations. My husband no longer refers to himself as a writer’s widower. I took tap dancing lessons last year, and I play in a band. I even have sunlight hours to spend on the river.
More experienced rowers tell me that achieving the perfect stroke can take a lifetime. That’s fine with me. All I have to do is remember why I got in the boat in the first place, and then start all over again.
Tara Murtha is a writer and author of “Ode to Billie Joe.”
To view the full article, please visit The New York Times' website.
Photos were taken by the incredible and talented Seana Burke and Leo Bastimo, who came from Sacramento and volunteered their time to photograph the event!
The DSC Board of Directors is thrilled to announce that Georgiana Ogrean has been hired to be Head Junior Coach/Program Manager. As Novice Masters Coach at Lake Merritt Rowing Club, she has excelled in developing new rowers. This summer she is Head Coach of DSC’s successfully running summer sculling camps for middle and high school girls, building the groundwork for an even stronger GRS team in 2019-2020. As a rower herself, her ascendency has been remarkable for one who began rowing in 2016! Her passion for and commitment to rowing has led to the following accomplishments at LMRC: 1st place in Mixed Masters 8+ at the Head of the Lagoon 2018; 2nd place in the Mixed A 4x event at USRowing Masters Nationals 2018; and 1st place in Mixed Masters Novice 8+ at Gold Rush 2018, Wine Country Classic 2017, and Head of the American 2017. An accomplished sculler, Georgiana will bring her passion for the sport to Stockton’s youth in DSC’s Girls Row Stockton team and the Erg Ed program in local schools. She will also assist DSC as a whole by making use of her boat maintenance and repair skills and her proclivity for program management.
Before rowing took over her life, Coach Georgiana, who hails from Romania, did post-doctoral work at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Stanford in Astrophysics research on the heels of finishing her PhD in Physics at the University of Hamburg. Those studies were preceded by her MSc in Astroparticle Physics and BSc in Earth and Space Sciences, both at Jacobs University Bremen. Her brilliance is matched by her upbeat demeanor, great sense of humor, and excitement for our beloved sport.
Welcome, Georgiana. We are THRILLED that you are a part of DSC!
The DSC Athlete of the Month committee recognizes Lilbern “Leo” Layton as the July/August 2019 Athlete of the Month! On the morning of July 16th, members of our Freedom Rows, OarBusters and Masters crews gathered at the boathouse after the morning row to congratulate and celebrate Leo. Linda Acton, Masters Rower and Freedom Rows Volunteer, presented the award.
"Leo arrives at the boathouse early, carries the double or quad without any hesitation, and never complains. Leo consistently attends practice, is very helpful, and has greatly
improved his rowing skills," were among the words spoken about Leo. Bob O also mentioned that Leo has an eye for the best way to get items (including the 10-foot boats) in and out of the boathouse. Pat noted that in this last quarter Leo has not missed a single practice. Talk about an important member of the team!
Leo began rowing in 2016. He was training for the Valor Games and needed to practice his erg rowing. He received a tip to check out DSC. So, off to the DSC boathouse Leo went. And the rest, as they say, is history.
"Sculling is my escape. I leave everything on the dock," says Leo.
Leo served in the US Marines for four years. Leo has made a solid commitment to Delta Sculling Center and the Freedom Rows: Delta Heroes team. He also competes in USRowing's annual Military Challenge every February.
Next time you see Leo around the boathouse, please congratulate him for his recognition!
Over 100 members of the Stockton community were inspired by the First Lady of Stockton and others who delivered heartfelt speeches when they gathered at Stockton Collegiate for the second annual Catch The Current breakfast on June 7th to benefit our Girls Row Stockton team.
Pat Tirone, DSC’s President and Head Coach, kicked off the event with an encouraging rundown of all the progress made throughout the year in each of DSC's four programs: Masters, Freedom Rows, OarBusters, and Girls Row Stockton, with GRS being the focus of the morning fundraiser.
Lange Luntao, Director of Stockton Scholars and Executive Director of Reinvent Stockton Foundation, spoke for the second year in a row at this event. He ignited the room with energy and focused on the importance of fostering and supporting positive, well-rounded experiences for youth in our community. Luntao, Stockton Unified School District Board Trustee, co-wrote with Pat a successful grant proposal that brought the Erg Ed® curriculum along with twenty ergometers (i.e. land rowing machines) to Stockton middle and high schools.
Recognitions were also a highlight of the morning. DSC’s inaugural Heart of the Delta Award was given to Dr. Amy Scriven, DDS, for all of her ongoing support in the community for youth sports. She delivered a beautiful poem, Kids in Sports, that captured many of the life lessons youth learn from being athletes on teams such as GRS. Several DSC Masters were also recognized for volunteering their time and expertise to help coach and assist during GRS’s first season. Rebecca Abreu, Renaldo Abreu, Carol Coddington, Beverly Klunk, Dr. Robert Lee, Dr. Robert Oprandy, Linn Payne, and Kim Sparrowk were recognized for their commitment, time, and dedication in support of coaches Pat and Maya Weldon-Lagrimas, who doubled as a team member and coach of GRS in its inaugural year.
Following Khushi Kooner, a first-year sculler who gave a touching speech, her first ever to an audience, about her experiences on the team, Maya mentioned several lessons she learned from sculling with and coaching her teammates, such as “age is no measure of capability” and “commitment is what creates talent”.
And last but not least a joyful and insightful keynote speech was delivered by the First Lady of Stockton, Mrs. Anna Malaika Nti-Asare-Tubbs. Mrs. Tubbs spoke about growing up with sports, especially swimming. Then she spoke about the power of sports in young women’s development of confidence, balance and discipline in their lives and told the GRS team, “You are talented, you are strong, and you can do anything."
Girls Row Stockton was created in 2018 by Pat and Maya. As a high-school student at Stockton Collegiate, Maya approached Coach Pat one day after sculling practice with the Masters (there was no longer a rowing team for youth in Stockton). She asked if DSC would be interested in starting an all-inclusive girls’ team. The first Catch the Current event that took place in June of 2018 raised enough money and garnered enough support from the community to launch GRS into their first season! With six girls on the main squad, Coaches Pat and Maya, supported by eight DSC Masters, led the team through weekly land training, practice on the water, and several regional regattas in Sacramento, Oakland, and San Pedro Reservoir. They were also supported by the efforts of parents, led by Dr. Raissa Hill, who got them to practices and regattas and fed them copiously at their races and at a memorable celebration at the end of the year.
With Coach Maya leaving this year to study at Yale, her legacy will continue. Coach Georgiana Ogrean from Lake Merritt Rowing Club has filled in admirably by working with the young ladies at the GRS summer camp sessions (in June and July), helping to build the squad for the 2019-20 season. We are excited to have Georgiana play such an important role at Delta Sculling Center!
For more information on how to get involved in GRS or any other DSC program, contact Pat.
Looking for ways to donate? Visit us here.
What a GREAT morning and it was lovely to see each of you out there on the water. Please join me in honoring and celebrating Lilbern "Leo" Layton, the Oar Busters "Athlete of the Quarter." Leo was honored in recognition of his determination to improve both his health as well as making significant improvements in his stroke technique and his ongoing commitment to the Delta Sculling Center. When you see, please congratulate him for a job well done--on and off the water. - Leslie Bloudoff
Here's a shout out for our 2017 DSC "Athlete of the Month" Darlene Morgan!!! Please join me in congratulating her on this achievement. Darlene was recognized for her courage and determination in overcoming any and all obstacles both on and off the water as well as her 'can do' attitude and compassionate team spirit. And as you all know, she does indeed exemplify that passion and spirit in all that she does. So OarBusters… here's to Darlene! Wooeeee! We're blessed to have her with us and part of our expanding team.
What a weekend for Delta Sculling Center! January 28th was the Golden State Indoor Rowing Championships in Folsom, CA. DSC fielded one of the largest teams in attendance at 16 participants! Huge congratulations to everyone who raced and to Rachel, Leo and Linda on their hard-earned medals. Afterwards saw the continuation of a favored tradition - lunch at Brookfield's.
The following day, Leo, Rachel, Katie and Pat piled into two SUVs and headed east to the Peninsula Indoor Rowing Championships at Canada College. Rachel and Leo once again medaled in their events and Katie finished strong (medaling against her nonexistent competitors in her heat :D). Why two SUVs for four people? Pat brought home two new ergs to join the growing DSC erg population.
Saturday 4 February was the first day on the water for the new class of scullers! It was a gorgeous day and everyone went home exhilarated - and tired. Special shout-out to the volunteers for making the day awesome!
They say it takes a village to make a difference, and the Union Pacific Foundation Board takes that to heart. Delta Sculling Center was just awarded a substantial grant from Union Pacific to fund the continued participation of differently-abled and disadvantaged athletes in DSC’s sculling programs. The Union Pacific Foundation states their mission is to be a good corporate citizen in the communities they serve and to make a difference where their employees live and work. This grant will allow the differently-abled and disadvantaged to have ongoing access to the volunteer staff, sculling equipment, amazing coaches and most of all, the camaraderie of their fellow scullers. Delta Sculling Center – EveryBODY Sculls would like to offer our utmost thanks and gratitude for this exceedingly generous gift. Thank you, @UnionPacific !!!
Enjoy an unforgettably fun, plentiful and mouth-watering dinner of lobster, shrimp, sausage and vegetables. Help support Delta Sculling Center, which promotes the inclusive sport of sculling to military veterans, those with physical and cognitive challenges, as well as able-bodied participants. Join the fun on June 24th at the American Legion Hall in Lodi; social hour begins at 4:30, and dinner is at 6. Tickets ($100) to this fundraiser are limited and sold out in 2016; get yours at Eventzilla (http://bit.ly/2i3hRUh),www.deltasculling.org, or call Theresa at 209-608-2301.
Kurt Johnson competed in his first sprint races at the River City Rebellion hosted by the River City Rowing Club in West Sacramento on July 10th. He was accompanied by Coaches Pat Tirone and Bob Oprandy and assisted by Bob Lee. Bob O also sculled in all three rounds of the regatta, in which singles and doubles compete against one another. Kurt and Bob managed to race successfully through the turbulent water in the center of the course, called “the washing machine” by RCRC members, and later enjoyed the post-regatta BBQ to refuel within a half hour of their last race, one of the tips shared by Sarah Koszyk at the Sports Nutrition talk in Stockton the day before.
Ultra-runner and dietitian/nutritionist Sarah Koszyk, M.A., RDN, gave an excellent presentation to 22 DSC scullers on July 9th. Chock full of ideas about pre-, during and post-workout fueling and hydration, Sarah offered tips about food combining of use to all who attended. She had well-informed answers to a host of questions, and many in the audience have already begun changing their eating habits as a result of what they learned from Sarah. Thanks to Dorbea Cary and DSC’s Events Committee for arranging this special event.
DSC was well represented at this year’s Gold Rush Masters Regatta at Lake Natoma. All four events generated much excitement. Bob Oprandy waited his turn at the starting line till the other five older racers were off, and with a strong push in the second half he passed three of his competitors. In his first non-novice race, Bob Lee bested Bob O’s time by quite a bit in a later race, finishing behind three of the fastest Masters scullers in his age category in the U.S.! In a Women’s Novice 1x race, only 5.6 seconds separated all four entrants and Linda Payne, in her first race ever, finished less than 2 seconds behind the winner and just ahead of Shari Lowen, former DSC Board member who finished in third place. Rebecca Abreu would have been right in the mix if an equipment failure hadn’t forced her out of the race, but she later sculled alongside Rachel Tappero in the TA (Trunk and Arms) race. Mario Gonzales raced in a 2x with Renaldo Abreu in bow in the LTA category, finishing in 5:35. Rachel and Mario continue to be para rowing pioneers in Central California regattas. A host of DSC volunteers helped make the day a great success.
On Saturday Feb 28th, a group of DSC scullers completed a destination row to visit a family of hogs living on an island on the Delta. The hogs came running when they found the carrots and apples we tossed them from the coach launch and the folks in the coach launch got a scare when the mother hog tried to climb in the boat. We all enjoyed photo opps with the hogs from a safe distance. Everyone loved visiting the hogs and gathered for coffee, tea, snacks and hog stories at Toots Sweets after the row. (Written by Dorbea Cary, 4/6/15)