Let’s Move Quad Cities celebrates the spirit and determination Quad City area residents take to promote movement and fitness. We welcome guest blogger, Elizabeth Sharis, Pleasant Valley High School Class of 2015, Stanford University Class of 2019. At 18 years old, Elizabeth shares her passion for rowing!
Rowing is Why I Move
By Elizabeth Sharis, 18, rower
My rowing journey began when I injured my knee playing soccer when I was 12 years old. My doctor told me to try the ergometer (rowing machine) to strengthen the muscles around it. My father rowed for Harvard while in college and was a Barcelona 1992 Olympian, so he was able to introduce me to the sport. He is now our head coach!
The Quad Cities rowing team practices on the ergometer during the winter season (since we are unable to row on the frozen Mississippi), so I ended up going to practices with the team right away. I loved the family support, the team, and the challenge!! I have enjoyed 6 years of rowing so far, and look forward to more years in college and beyond!
This year at the high school national competition in Sarasota, Florida, our women’s quadruple sculls boat was able to defend our title from last year. We had some great competition, and it was satisfying to see our hard work pay off in a dramatic fashion.
My younger sister was one of the 4 people in the boat, which was a great experience to share. It was also my last race representing the Junior program of Y Quad Cities at nationals, so the result meant even more!!
What is it about the sport you love the most?
Rowing offers a unique combination of both teamwork and individual accomplishment. There are 4-person boats (quadruple sculls), 2-person boats (double sculls), and 1-person boats (single scull) that our team here in the Quad Cities primarily races.
For the team boats, it is extremely important to have humble and hardworking teammates that share the same vision of success. For the single, you alone are accountable for the end results.
I have raced in all of the boat classes, and have enjoyed the challenge each one presents. Additionally, the coaches for Y Quad Cities Rowing are very knowledgeable and truly help each person reach maximum potential, as long as one is willing to put in the commitment.
What are your goals for the sport?
Next year I will be rowing at Stanford University! I am really looking forward to joining their team and hope to contribute at the NCAA Championships next year!!
Tell us about the physical demands of rowing.
A common misconception about rowing is that includes only the upper body and arms. When I say I am a rower, people often comment about how strong my arms must be. This only true to a certain extent!!
In the rowing stroke, the legs are actually the most utilized muscle group. Arms and back are used later during the stroke, but are not as important.
Also, in order to have the most success with rowing, one must have both power and endurance. The workouts we have focus on improving both of these crucial aspects. Once the “Juniors” in our program have reached a certain level of technique and experience, practices generally occur twice a day Monday through Friday, and once on Saturday. We have 2-3 additional lifting practices at the nearest YMCA throughout the week!
What top honors or competitions have you earned?
Two silver medals at the Junior World Championships in the quadruple sculls event (2012, 2013), Gold in the quadruple sculls and silver in the double sculls at the 2015 USRowing Youth National Championships, Gold in the quadruple sculls and single sculls in the 2014 USRowing Youth National Championships.
Why should others consider rowing?
Generally the youngest ages to begin rowing at our program are 12-14, depending on strength and height. As for oldest age… I do not believe there is a limit!
At the Indoor Rowing Championships, men and women well into their 80s and 90s have been known to compete!
Rowing is a low impact sport and offers a wonderful and supportive community. Once the technique is mastered, the choice is yours as to where you want to go. One can choose to just train on the ergometer to stay in shape, or enjoy the beautiful sunrises on the Mississippi in the early morning from a rowing shell.
Tell us more about the QC Rowing Club, Y Quad Cities Rowing.
Run by the Two Rivers YMCA, Y Quad Cities Rowing has a competitive high school “Juniors” program, an Adaptive program (for individuals with a physical disability), as well as a “Masters” program for rowers any age after high school.
Learn-to-Row classes are offered frequently during the spring, summer, and fall. Learn-to-Row is a required prerequisite for beginners joining the club. Once this is completed, we have designated boats and oars for general club use!
We row on the Illinois side on the Mississippi River, and you can see our green-roofed boathouse and dock if you look to the right when crossing the I-74 bridge, Illinois-bound!