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Rower Spotlight: Annette Barbay



In our third Rower Spotlight we feature masters rower, Annette Barbay. Annette's emerging rowing career has progressed quickly - from joining our early Spring SPLASH class held on Beebe Cove to racing ergs indoor & racing quads, doubles and singles in New England over the past 17 months. As NRC Adult Program Captain, Annette keeps tuned to the NRC membership helping to identify races, classes, and events that are of interest to the NRC masters rowers. NRC is grateful to have such an interested and active club.

How did you discover rowing?

I first tried rowing about 15 years ago when I was an employee at the Coast Guard Academy. The coach gave me demonstrations on the ergs and indoor rowing tanks before quickly sending us off in a racing double on the Thames (River). My partner had rowed in college. Thankfully she was very patient with my complete lack of skills. By the end of the summer, I was finally starting to get the hang of it. But my partner moved away and I didn't row again until I found NRC 15 years later. I had rowed at Beebe Cove a few times when I initially started rowing, but I lost interest because there weren't many people and the only boats were Aldens. I was surprised to find the new facilities, new boats, and an organized rowing club when I came back to the cove years later!

Are/were you active in other sports before rowing?

I avoided all sports when I was growing up. I was always the kid who was picked last for every team in P.E. class. In my early thirties a friend introduced me to running and I became very serious about the sport. I've completed more than 20 marathons including NYC and Boston. After 15 years of running, it has been fun to discover a new sport with so many new things to learn! I've made many friendships through running, but when it comes to competition, running is an individual sport. Rowing in the team boats offers the additional challenges of learning to synchronize with your teammates and working to develop your skills together as a group.


What do you like about rowing and about NRC?

There are a lot of things that I like about being a part of NRC. It's exciting to be a part of a club that's growing. Since I've joined, a new dock has been installed and the club has purchased a second racing quad and a new trailer. The members have a lot of input into ideas for the future and goals for the club. So, there are a lot of possibilities. I often feel a satisfying sense of teamwork as we all help each other get the boats off the dock after a row. That sense of teamwork and cooperation carries through all the club's activities. The club really has a great group of both master and junior members.

You're relatively new to rowing, correct? Yet, you are now racing and rowing all the way up the Mystic River and back. Tell us about your progress.

There is a real sense of accomplishment that comes with learning a new skill and that is one of the reasons I’ve had so much fun with rowing. It was exciting to take part in several sprint regattas for the first time this year. I don't think there is any particular secret to progress other than to practice often! I do try to sign up for the coached classes whenever they are offered. Having the chance to work directly with coaches who have so much expertise with the sport is really a very special opportunity.

Have you set any goals for yourself in rowing? What are your plans for winter and spring?

This winter I’ll be using erg training to stay in shape and I plan to train for the CRASH-B 2K erg race. We had a lot of fun with erg racing last season so I hope that others will join in again this season! In the spring, I'd like to gain more confidence in navigating the Mystic River so that I can progress to longer and faster-paced rows on a regular basis. I'd like to develop the rowing endurance, speed, and skills needed to race in a longer head race on an unfamiliar river. Having goals to work towards gives me extra motivation to practice.


You recently took a pretty impressive vacation, could you tell us about it?

I traveled to Tanzania in Africa for a 9-day trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro and a 3-day safari. The elevation at the summit is 19,341 feet. [This photo shows Annette holding an NRC flag at the summit]

The altitude was the biggest unknown factor for me. Our route allowed time for acclimatization so I was able to make it to the top feeling strong and happy. We visited the Ngorongoro Crater which has the highest population density of wildlife of any place on the planet. Standing in one spot, we were able to watch large numbers of hippos wading in the mud while flocks of birds gathered. Zebras, wildebeest, and gazelles grazed nearby, and the occasional hyena scouted around for its next meal.

Do you have any advice for people who are considering rowing?

NRC is a great place to start. Taking a SPLASH class is the best way to learn the basics and after completing the class you will be ready to join in the group rows. There are different boats suitable for all skill levels so you can progress at your own pace.


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