Pupils get their water legs, thanks to club

14 October 2002

Like blue ducks to the water: UCT's Kerry Moir at work with learners from Grassdale High.

BETWEEN the demands of academia and accumulating a string of impressive results on the water, members of the UCT Rowing Club have been hosting development clinics with eager students from two local high schools, Grassdale in Grassy Park and Livingstone in Claremont.

Heading the project is Kerry Moir, the club's development officer, who over the past few months has been running weekly sessions with each of the two schools. During this time, Moir – initially assisted by UCT men's captain Sam Pearson – has been introducing the learners to the art and practice of rowing.

This involved carting the novices, via Jammie Shuttle, to training sessions at either Zeekoevlei or Sandvlei, where she would take the girls – mostly from Grassdale – out on a two-blade quad, while the boys – all Livingstone students – have been getting their water legs on a single-oar eights boat. And when the weather's not agreeable, Moir has been leading workouts on ergo machines or the training tank at the UCT Sports Centre.

As with most such development enterprises, getting funding has been the biggest – although not the only – difficulty in keeping the clinics going, says Moir. But with a little help from SASSU-UCT and sponsored kits and support from UCT Sports Administration's Keith Hart and attendants, the programme has been going along nicely, she reports.

The learners, she says, have been getting plenty of fun out of the sessions. The hope is that the clinics will continue next year – volunteers and money forthcoming – and that the students' enthusiasm will be converted into successful rowing careers.

“What we wanted to do is give students who've never rowed before the chance to do so,” says Moir, who only took up the sport when she came to UCT a couple of years back. “I get so much out of rowing, and I wanted to share that with others.”

Moir showed off some of her own talent when she joined the UCT women eights team for the recent intervarsity regatta in scenic Port Alfred, where the men's squad also participated. The men's first and second teams and the women's first side had to settle for the runners-up positions on the podium, while the women's second team beat close rivals Rhodes University for top honours in their section.

It would be nice, adds Moir, if some of the school learners she's training now someday take their places in medal-winning UCT boats, which is one of the project's stated goals.

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