Getting in shape while rowing the summer away...

Competition rowing in Alaska is growing thanks to the Midnight Sun Rowing Association who has a landing dock and storage on Mackey Lake where they do most of their training. Winners of many state, national, and international medals the Midnight Sun Rowers are a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and developing amateur rowers for competition. "Our goal is to develop and deliver safe and sustainable programs and events that promote the joys of rowing for fitness and camaraderie to a diverse and growing membership," says coxswain Teri Saupe.

At an open house held at their Mackey Lake dock last month Saupe gave new comers an opportunity to get in and row a scull for the first time, "We were very happy with the turn out, we made some new friends and recruited some new rowers I think," commented team member Jacqueline Van Hatten. Visitors also had the opportunity to meet the team's new coach Jana Mazgajski who brings more than 30 years of rowing experience to Mackey Lake. Jana rowed with the Poland National Olympic Team from 1966-76. He participated in two Olympic Games, including Munich in 1972 and Montreal in 1976. A native of Warsaw, Poland, Mazgajski earned his masters of physical education from the University of Physical Education in Poland. Mazgajski was happy to have new blood for the team and said rowing accommodates any level of fitness, "By adjusting the intensity of the rowing motion, anyone can work at their own pace," he says, "Rowing is a typical team sport, it teaches you discipline, but the most important part is enthusiasm. If a new rower has enthusiasm for the sport and their physical fitness, they will be back and we can teach technique, team spirit, strength and conditioning, but without enthusiasm nothing happens," Mazgajski told the Dispatch during the open house.

Margie McCord of Soldotna has been rowing for many years and says it's a complete body work out and total conditioning. One of the team's promoters Jacqueline Van Hatten adds that the work out is incredibly low impact on knees and joints attributing her recovery from an auto accident to rowing. The team had their first competition recently and has a scheduled race on Bear Lake in Seward for August 11th.

It's not too late to start rowing this season as most of the out of state and national competitions come in the fall. For more information or call 952-8406, or simply show up at Mackey Lake and meet some great folks having a lot of fun pulling together.