Members of the Sarasota Adaptive Rowing Program will compete alongside able-bodied athletes in the Sarasota 5000, a local rowing regatta hosted in Osprey, Fla.
Team participants rowing in the Sarasota 5000 include Jack Gerber, a retired Army colonel who suffered a stroke and cancer. Gerber says, “[Rowing] has taught me a lot about what I’m capable of doing, event at this stage of my life. I shouldn’t be improving that much, and in rowing, it showed a great enhancement to myself.”
Other athletes competing will be Carlen Olson, a blind rower who navigates with the assistance of a guide boat, and Betsy Mitchell, a trunk and arms only rower and the recent winner of the Canadian Henley in the women’s single.
SARP athletes compete in regattas around the nation. Earlier in the racing season, the team’s athletes competed at the Southeast Regionals. Currently the athletes are training for the Head of the Hooch regatta in Chattanooga, Tenn. Mitchell also plans to row in the Head of the Charles, considered the U.S.’s most prestigious regatta, in the mixed trunk & arms double.
“Adaptive Rowing is for people with disabilities. It provides everyone with the opportunity to row on the water with able-bodied athletes,” said Joe Dobson, Coach for the SARP.
The Sarasota 5000 started in 2009 and is hosted by the Sarasota Scullers Youth Rowing Program. Adaptive racing was first added to the event list in 2010.
The SARP is dedicated to providing all athletes access to the sport of rowing. To learn about the program, visit sarasotaadaptiverowing.com.