It’s 6 a.m. on a Monday morning and while their fellow classmates are still sleeping, taking advantage of the few extra hours of sleep they get for the next three months, the Clermont Crew is already up and out on the water.
“It gives these kids a chance to get up and get something done in the morning,” Clermont Crew head coach Lynne Graves said. “They’re finished by eight and then they can go about doing whatever they want to do. It’s pretty amazing to see a bunch of high school kids up that early.”
That’s what the Clermont Crew has been doing for the past 12 years. Started in 2000 as the Cincinnati Junior Rowing Club, the Clermont Crew and Sculling Club, headquartered at the James E. Sauls, Sr. Water Sports Center in the East Fork State Park, offers high schoolers an alternative to various other sports and activities.
“I call it the hidden gem in the county,” Graves said.
While other athletes compete for their schools, the Clermont Crew is made up of high schoolers from all around Clermont and the surrounding counties that compete in the fall and spring
“We start in the beginning of September and goes through the middle of November,” Graves explained. “We’re pretty much in the same time frame as a soccer season. Then in the spring, like baseball, we go from March 1 to the end of May.”
The club is open to people of all ages, but within that club, the high school program competes in the various regattas around the Midwest and the rest of the country.
“For instance, any adult can learn to row and then become a club member and take equipment out and go about your own practices,” Graves said.
The high school program is unique in that club members compete with the Clermont Crew, but the strenuous activity can act as a training method for other sports.
In the fall, the Clermont Crew compete in “Head” races, which Graves related to cross-country running versus track.
The Head races are five kilometer races that promotes endurance rather than straight sprints that take place in the spring. The spring races are only 2,000 meters and are similar to what will take place at the Olympics this summer in London.
Other than the Clermont Crew, the Cincinnati Junior Rowing Club is the other rowing club in town. The Clermont Crew does mostly sculling as opposed to sweep rowing, which CJRC does. The difference is that in sweep rowing each person only uses one oar, while with sculling, each person has two oars.
“We offer slightly different offerings than the other club in town,” Graves said. “We want to service Clermont County kids so we draw from Amelia, Glen Este, Batavia, Bethel, New Richmond and Milford. We also get a fair number of homeschooled kids as well as kids that live in Clermont County, but go to school outside the county.”
“The kids make amazing friendships because we put kids in a boat and you have to figure out how to row and you have to work together,” Graves said. “The camaraderie that develops out of that is really special.”
The Clermont Crew wants to get the word out about what they consider the “best -kept secret in Clermont County athletics.” Rowing offers great opportunities for college scholarships. Many Clermont County alumni are scattered around the country and rowing for various colleges such as Georgia Tech, Boston University, the University of Louisville and Stetson University in Florida.
“The opportunities at the collegiate level is pretty good,” Graves said. “There’s definitely scholarship money available and free rides to many of the colleges in the country.”
For more information about the Clermont Crew, you can log on to their website at www.clermontcrew.net.