Adaptive Rowing Clinic- Tampa

ASF was recently invited to attend a 2-day rowing (sculling) event in partnership with Veterans Adminstration and U.S. Paralympic Training Program, hosted by WinTech Racing, a manufacturer of high performance racing hulls and adaptive rowing equipment,. Program Director, Debbie Arenburg greeted us at the Steward's Foundation Boathouse on the banks of the Hillsborough River, which is near downtown Tampa and the hub for many academic and collegiate rowing programs. She had several stationary machines on hand, as well as WinTech's adaptive hulls and accesories. Here lifelong background in competitive and open water sculling led her to become the Adaptive Sports Director for WinTech and a U.S. technical classifier for Adaptive rowers. 


Many of the athletes in attendance were from James A. Haley VA Hospital Adaptive Sports and Fitness Team in Tampa, Fl. and are quite active in various sports.The JAHVAH group from Tampa is headed to Colorado next week for a little snowboarding, skiing, and snowmobiling! Jennifer Day and Janene Griffin from the Veteran's Administration are the ones who organize these events and certainly did a great job on this one! These two ladies keep the good times rolling by coordinating fun events like this one, and by assisting the veterans with the necessary paperwork so they can obtain adaptive sports equipment and training.This whole group was a pleasure to hang out with and hear their stories, accomplishments, and adventures.

Adaptive rowing governing body, FISA divides the athletes into classifications, according to their abilities, and Ms. Arenburg evaluates their ability and performance at these events. The different levels define their sculling ability as LTA, (which is Legs, Trunk, Arms) and can use the sliding seat function for maximum power and efficiency. The other classes are TA (Trunk,Arms) and AS, which is arms only. Regardless of their challenges or classification, these athletes do not look for special treatment at all. In fact, its quite the opposite! This crowd went full bore on the machines, and got quite a workout at the same time. Seeing their determination and "Can Do" attitudes is quite an uplifting experience!

Also on hand for the clinic was Laura Schwanger, a bronze medalist in the arms only division of 2008 Paralympic Rowing competition. They coached the athletes through some exercises on the stationary rowing machines and practiced their techniques, while recording their times with onboard computers that tracked their strokes per minute, distance covered, and total time. The stationary machines also allowed for them to try out the different seating configurations on the specially designed seats. Body positioning in rowing is very important to maximize energy and efficiency, especially when you have additional challenges.

After a short break, we moved down to the docks to continue the hands on clinic. Laura gave a dockside demonstration of these techniques, and every participant was able to get on the water and spend time in the boats. All the athletes took turns on the boats for the rest of the afternoon. Everyone came back for more on the second day of the clinic, and were treated to a great lunch of BBQ chicken and ribs from Lupton's Bar-B-Q.

I must say that spending time with these wounded warriors showed me that anything is possible when you set your mind to it, and to never give up! Hearing their stories and watching them tackle new challenges definitely impacted my life in a positive way. I am looking forward to hanging out with this crowd again soon!

Action Sports Foundation is committed to showing our appreciation to these great soldiers, and has an increasing number of events for you to get involved in. Our next veteran appreciation event is May 2nd on Lake Seminole in Pinellas county, and will feature adaptive wakeboarding and waterskiing.  Please contact us if you would like to volunteer!

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