By Erich Wagner
This summer, more than 130 Alexandria residents — young and old — have been acquainting themselves with some new terminology: the coxswain, the catch and sculling.
The Alexandria Summer Crew program teaches adults and children about rowing as well as helps them improve their skills on the Potomac River. Participants rise before dawn each morning for rowing instructions and practice, with special attention on “the catch,” the pivotal point during a stroke where the rower straightens their legs and slides oars into the water.
“[The catch] is something we work on every day,” said program director Lexye Hearding in a statement. “It’s like blocking and tackling in football — a critical skill upon which success in the sport depends. And that’s really the whole purpose of summer crew: to teach the basics, improve on technique and build a better understanding of rowing in Alexandria.”
Hearding, a former T.C. Williams crew member, said the program has been a hub for budding rowers to hone their skills. This year, in addition to Alexandria students, representatives from other area high schools — like West Potomac, Bishop Ireton, Georgetown Visitation and Mount Vernon — have participated in the program.
“We also try to have fun, which isn’t hard to do when you’re out on the water with the sun coming up and the only sound you hear is the rhythm of the oars,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of good friendships created on the Potomac over the years, along with a lot of good rowers, too.”
The summer program comes to a close with the annual Blue Plains Sprints, a regatta featuring a series of races for participants to test their mettle, on August 3.