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Two years ago, Phil Gaynor, founder of the Oshkosh Rowing Club (ORC), taught Michelle Fashingbauer to row. Her first few times out on the water, she got too close to shore and hit land, almost tipping the boat.

But she was hooked.

As a member of the Oshkosh Rowing Club, Fashingbauer wants to provide that same opportunity to Oshkosh community members. The ORC is offering free rowing lessons at 7 a.m. Saturday May 22 and June 5 on the Fox River.

“Most people are not familiar with rowing,” she said. “They probably have only seen it on TV. We want people to see what it’s all about, see our club, see our boats and hopefully fall in love with the sport.”

The club has nine boats for its 12 active members, including an eight, a four, a double as well as six singles. The names of the boats refer to how many rowers they hold. Many of the members own boats as well.

“We have discovered some very generous people in the rowing community,” Fashingbauer said. “Most of our equipment has been donated from other clubs and individuals.”

A rowing club in Virginia donated the four this year.

The different types of boats lend themselves to the two disciplines of rowing: scull and sweep. Scull rowing is when each rower holds two oars, while sweep rowing is when each rower only uses one oar.

Pairs and fours can be sweep boats as well as scull boats, and eights are strictly sweep boats. The rest are scull boats.

Workout on the water

The club started in the summer of 2007 and is open to all members of the community, including any age and skill level.

“Rowing is one of those few sports that people can start at any age,” Fashingbauer said. “We have people that first started rowing in their 50s.”

About 15 people are expected to participate in the club’s upcoming Learn to Row event.

Laura Klein, a senior at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, attended a Learn to Row event April 26.

“I had been using the ergometers at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center just for fitness and decided it might be fun to try the real thing,” she said, adding that it was exciting to be in the water.

The Oshkosh Rowing Club is located on the UW Oshkosh campus. They typically go out on the Fox River in the early mornings to avoid powerboat traffic.

“Our location is great for the sport,” Fashingbauer said. “We have a community that loves being on the water. Rowing is another great way to enjoy the water and get a great workout.”

Rowing is a low-impact sport that strengthens the back, arms and legs and improves cardiovascular fitness.

Fashingbauer hopes that, through the Learn to Row events, others also will develop a passion for rowing.

“I love everything about it,” she said. “All winter you think about it and can’t wait until you get out on the water. There is nothing else I would rather be doing.”

Reservations are required for the free lessons. To reserve a spot, send an e-mail to or call (920) 233-5531.

For more information on the Oshkosh Rowing Club, visit

Photos were submitted.