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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions, as well as some additional information we just thought you might like to know:

1.  What is Northern Virginia Rowing Club (NVRC)?
NVRC is a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching the sport of rowing to adults (21+) of all ages and skill levels in the northern Virginia region. Our goal is to introduce and teach the sport of sweep rowing and coxing to adults who have never rowed before; provide recreational and competitive rowing opportunities; and to help develop a sense of community, volunteerism, health, and fitness in the northern Virginia area.

2.  Where is NVRC located?
NVRC is located in Sandy Run Park at 10450 Van Thompson Road, Fairfax Station, VA 22039
We are approximately 25 miles south of Washington, DC.

3.  What is “sweep rowing”? 
Sweep or sweep-oar rowing is a type of rowing when a rower has one oar, usually held with both hands. As each rower has only one oar, the rowers have to be paired so that there is an oar on each side of the boat. This is in contrast to sculling when a rower has two oars, one in each hand. (Wikipedia)

4.  Does NVRC also include sculling, canoeing, or kayaking? 
No, although some of our members do scull on their own, NVRC is solely a sweep rowing club.

5.  Do you need to have rowed before or know anything about rowing or boating? 
No, not at all – that’s why we’re here – to teach you.

6.  What type of rowing programs do you offer?
NVRC offers four different programs: Learn to Row, Novice Program, Coxswain Development, and an Experienced rower program.

7.  What is the cost?
Learn to Row: $225; Master's Coxswain Program: $200; Novice Program: $625; Experienced Rowers: $825 (2021 season fees are discounted.  Click here for details)

8.  What is your refund policy?
2020 Membership and Season Fees are fully refundable up to May 30th, less an administrative fee of 10%. If a rower withdraws on or after June 1st but before June 8th, Full Membership and Season Fees are refundable less 20%. Beginning June 15th, Membership and Season Fees are no longer refundable.

9.  When does your rowing season start and how long does it last?
Our rowing season is 5 months long – from the first weekend of June, to the beginning of November, ending with the last local race (Head of the Occoquan). For 2020, the season begins May 30th. Our Learn to Row program begins three weeks prior to that.

10.  Do you have an introductory rowing program?
Yes, we offer our Learn to Row “camp” in the last three weeks of May for those new to sweep rowing. The fun continues for those graduating from our Learn to Row (LTR) program who would like to continue rowing by joining our Novice Team. This is also a great start for someone who may have rowed in high school or college a while back would like to re-familiarize themselves with rowing again before possibly advancing to the more experienced boats/teams.

11.  Are there limitations on who can row with NVRC?
There are a couple things that could limit your participation. 
-    You must be 21 years old, or older. 
-    And, if you have not been recently active in strenuous sports activities, then we highly recommend consulting a doctor before coming out to row. Rowing is a full-body exercise that includes intense and sustained exertion, as well as the lifting of heavy equipment. A rower needs to be able to lift 30 lbs overhead then carry that weight at shoulder height when moving large boats to and from the water.

12.  Do I need to know how to swim?
Yes. Rowing takes place on the water, and while falling out of the boat is very unlikely, it is possible. Therefore, when registering for any rowing program, each participant must confirm that they are able to swim 100 meters and tread water for 5 minutes.

13.  How do I join NVRC and become a member?
Visit the "Join Us" page for instructions and the link to registration and payment. (If when you click on the registration link and do not see a link, that means that registration is not yet open. Please check back)

14.  I rowed in high school and/or college, what program do I sign up for?
If you feel fairly confident in your ability to quickly pick back up where you left off, then sign up for the Experienced rower program. If you aren’t quite sure, then sign up for the Novice program. There you can dust off your skills, and after a while, in consultation with your coach, join the Experienced rower’s team.

15.  I coxed in high school and/or college, can I cox with you?
Yes, we welcome novice and veteran coxswains! In our coxswain’s program, new and experienced coxswains will enhance and apply their skills in competitive practices and races (1k & 5k) situations and have a heck of a lot of fun driving their rowers to their maximum abilities. Our coxswains are indispensable members of each boat, our teams, and our club.

16.  I’m currently a high school coxswain – can I join?
Yes, NVRC welcomes and encourages high school coxswains to join us – at no cost. Here you will further develop your coxing skills and strategies - as well as life skills - learning from our experienced rowers and coaches, and preparing you for college rowing programs, college, and life in general. Coxing with NVRC can also be applied towards high school volunteer service requirements.


17.  I'm currently in high school, or will be, can I row with you?

No, NVRC is a "Masters" rowing program - which requires rowers to be 21 years old or older. However, virtually every high school in the Northern Virginia area has a rowing team, many of whom row out of Sandy Run park. We recommend contacting your high school to ask about their rowing program.

18.  Is there a size requirement to be a coxswain?
It’s generally desirable for a coxswain to be smaller in stature – usually weighing less than 140 lbs. This is because most crew boats have rather small (short & narrow) coxswain seats, therefore the unfortunate size limitations. 

19.  What should I wear?
Rowers should wear non-baggy shorts/sweats (spandex type and bike shorts are great), a t-shirt, and athletic shoes. When we row in the cooler fall weather, wear warm clothes (sweats, jacket, hat) might be recommended. BEWARE of baggy pants - when you start to row, they will get caught in the tracks of the sliding seat and your rowing will come to a very abrupt end.

20.  Are there showers or a locker room at the boathouse?
No. There are only water fountains and Port-A-Johns available at the park.

21.  Where do I store personal belongings while rowing?
While the NVRC storage shed is locked during practice, it has is very limited storage space. Keys and other small items can be locked in the shed during practice, however, it is best to leave anything valuable locked in your car and out of sight, or better yet, at home.

22.  What happens if there is inclement weather?
Remember, rowing is a “water sport.” As such, we row out on the river in the rain, the cold, and the heat. However, if there is thunder and/or lightning, or it is very windy, we immediately get off the water and either do at home workouts or go to a nearby restaurant and socialize.

23.  Does NVRC participate in regattas (races)?
Yes. NVRC trains rowers for competitive racing. The club participates in most local and regional sprint (1,000 meters) and head (5 kilometers) races. Examples of regional regattas are the Occoquan Masters Sprints, Head of the Potomac, Diamond States, Head of the Charles, the Occoquan Challenge, Chase, and the Head of the Occoquan. 

24.  Does NVRC do anything during the off-season (November - March)?
During the off-season, NVRC offers Winter Conditioning Programs to maintain and build physical condition, strength, and endurance. The program is open to all, however NVRC members have priority. Club members also continue to  participate in community and social activities.

25.  I have my own boat. May I store it in your boathouse? 
NVRC does not operate the boathouse. We rent race space the from Sandy Run Regional Park who owns and manages both the park and boathouses. You need to contact the park manager to inquire about personal boat storage availability.  They can be reached by phone or email. T: 703-690-4392 or E:

26.  Is that all you people do is row? 
Actually, off the water, our members do lots of things. NVRC members participate in local community volunteer events, as well as enjoying summer Boathouse Breakfasts, after practice Saturday Coffee Talks, periodic non-rowing outings, the occasional informal Happy Hours, and our End of Season banquet – to name a few. During the off-season, members can participate in winter training activities, community and social activities and adventures. As you can see, we are a lot more than just rowing, and there are tons of things to do if you want to get involved!

27. Are there any coaching opportunities at NVRC?
We are always looking for experienced, committed, and reliable coaches, and we offer the best pay in the area. If you have coaching experience and are available to coach weekday evenings from 6:15 – 8:30pm (Mon &Thur) and Saturday mornings 7:30-10:30am, please contact NVRC at

What - you have a question we didn't cover above?

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