Rowing club’s season underway despite cold lake temperatures

Now that ice has finally melted from Lake Superior,more people can finally start using the lake for recreation, including the Upper Peninsula Community Rowing Club.

The club held its orientation day where new and returning members went over important safety information Tuesday night.  Adult and youth members had to take a swim test, lift 30 pounds over their head, watch a safety video, and learn to use rowing machines.

These requirements are to make sure everyone is safe before going out on the water.

“We really practice safety,” UPCRC youth rowing coach Ann Piereson said. “When we’re out on Lake Superior we do wear life jackets but we still need you to be comfortable in the water. You need to be able to prove you have some basic survivor skills.”

“We take safety very seriously in this club. It’s a big, cold lake and we always respect that lake, so we go through the safety requirements to make sure everyone is fit enough and knows the rules of safety to be out on the lake,” UPCRC rowing coach Deb Jean said.

This year the club is taking extra precautions while rowing in Lake Superior, including making sure people are wearing the proper clothes and limiting time in the water.

“We’ll probably stay a little closer to shore, we always have a motorboat following immediately behind the rowing shell so we have that in place,” UPCRC membership chair Gail Brayden said. “All of our members wear PFD’s or life vests during every single row because of the cold water–we do that anyway, but I think (we’ll have) a little extra caution (this year). And the other thing is if the air temperature is cold and the water temperature is cold some of our rows might not be as long if people seem to be getting cold while we’re out there.”

“The other special precaution this year is we’ll actually have people in waders holding the boat assisting new people to get set up so they can enter the boat. Normally we have the coxsawin’s doing that but it’ll be too much time on the water, so we’ve had to make some modifications to make sure no one’s freezing out there,” Jean said.

You can still join the rowing club, but all the safety requirements must be met before the season starts Saturday, June 14 for new members.

For more information, visit the UPCRC’s website or Facebook page.