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Frequently Asked Questions
Photo by James Dollins
General Information: The Club
What is the Olympia Area Rowing Association (OAR)?
Olympia Area Rowing (OAR) is a rowing club in Olympia, Washington, USA. It has the following mission: "OAR promotes and provides competitive and recreational rowing for adults and youth in the local community, fostering sportsmanship, teamwork, athleticism, and camaraderie."
Where is the boathouse?
The OAR boathouse is located in the Port of Olympia's Swantown Marina. Click
for location info.
How is OAR managed?
Olympia Area Rowing is managed by a member-elected Board of Directors with the aid of set of standing committees. Committees include Membership; Finance; Human Resources; Facilities, Equipment and Safety; Information, Publicity, and Community Relations; Youth Rowing; Adult Rowing; Fundraising; Regatta; and Social and Traditions. The work of the club is done by volunteers who serve on committees, participate in workparties and complete individual adhoc projects.
Do you rent rack space?
Yes. The club rents rack space to club members for singles and doubles on a space available basis. The club Captain oversees rack assignments. The club does not rent rack space for other types of boats.
General Information: Rowing
When and where do you row?
We row year round, during daylight hours on Budd Inlet on the southern end of the Puget Sound. The club has several organized programs with scheduled practice times.
Adult sweep programs currently practice Tuesdays and Thursdays after work and Saturday mornings.
Adult sculling programs are currently practicing Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings.
The Junior program practice times vary by season. Summer practices are in the morning while Fall and Spring practices are in the afternoon.
Please consult the club's website for specific information on practice times.
Individual scullers are free to row during daylight hours at their convenience.
What kind of clothing is best for rowing?
Rowers wear snug-fitting layers.
During a workout, rowers will frequently remove a layer after they have warmed up. Nylon windbreakers make a good top layer. Polypropylene and wool make good under layers. These are better workout materials than cotton which tends to hold water and chill the body.
Avoid jackets with open pockets which can accidentally grab an oar handle!
Avoid baggy shorts which can get caught under the wheels of your seat. Likewise remember to tuck in your shirt or jacket to keep tails getting under your seat.
If you are looking for clothes designed specifically for rowing, a good website to visit is
What is a float test, and where can I take it?
The float test is treading water (or just floating) in the deep end of the pool for 10 min. without hanging on to the side. We ask people to wear a t-shirt and shorts so it kind of mimics having some workout clothing on. The test is to ensure that in the unlikely event people wind up in the water, they are comfortable keeping themselves afloat until the coaching launch can come and pick them up.
Prior to Learn to Row programs and Basic Sculling Classes, float tests are conducted for the entire class at once, usually at The Valley Athletic Club. This winds up being a fun group activity and lets people relax knowing that they, and everyone else in the group, can handle themselves in the water.
Individual rowers who join the club are also required to do a float test. Life guards at various pools in the community will sign off on float tests. Pools are available at the YMCA, The Valley Athletic Club and The Evergreen State College.
Do you have programs for rowers who are not interested in racing?
Yes. The club encourages rowing, whether or not you are interested in competing. There are groups of sweep rowers as well as scullers who train together within the organized programs, with no plans to race.
Learning To Row
What kind of rowing is available?
OAR is a rowing club featuring "Olympic style" sweep rowing and sculling.
In sweep rowing, each rower has one oar and can row with 2, 4 or 8 persons in a boat. In sculling, a rower has 2 oars (or sculls) and can row in a 1-person, 2-person or 4-person boat (or shell). In all cases rowers are seated on sliding seats, with their feet secured in "foot stretchers". (Visit the
Wikipedia Rowing Glossary
for more information on rowing and sculling terms.)
Are there programs for both young people and adults?
Yes. OAR's Junior Rowing Program serves youths ages 13 though high school seniors. OAR also provides programs for adults, 18 and above.
For details please click:
Adult (masters) rowing
Adult (masters) rowing
Do I need to be a good swimmer to row?
In order to row with Olympia Area Rowing, a "float test" -- treading water in a heated pool for 10 minutes -- must be completed prior to rowing with OAR.
Do you have programs for experienced and inexperienced rowers?
Yes, OAR has "Learn to Row" classes for both sculling and sweep rowing for people with little to no rowing experience. For experienced rowers, there are practices, lessons and clinics also available.
What types of memberships are there?
OAR has the following memberships: Regular, Family, Summer, Supporting and Youth. For more information on available memberships, click here.
Who can join OAR?
Adults over 18 years of age who are interested in the sport of rowing.
What is the service commitment about?
OAR members agree to contribute 12 volunteer hours a year towards maintaining club equipment and facilities. The club's vibrancy is due to its volunteers!
Equipment and Facilities
What rowing shells (boats) does Olympia Area Rowing have?
Currently OAR has a fleet comprised of 5 eights, 8 fours and quads, 2 doubles, 7 open water singles and 3 racing singles. Members, juniors and adult learn-to-row classes use these boats in accordance with the Club's equipment rules, supervised by coaches and the Club Captain.
What is a Coxswain or Cox?
A coxswain (COX' un), or cox, is responsible for steering boats of 4 or more rowers and is a crucial team member in sweep rowing. The cox navigates the course, provides feedback and direction to the crew and valuable information to the Crew's coach.
For an extensive list of rowing terms, see