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The Des Moines Row­ing Club offers row­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties to both men and women, sweep row­ers and scullers, com­pet­i­tive and recre­ational row­ers, and includes all ages from teens (14 and older) to seniors.

Sweep Pro­grams

Mas­ter Row­ers | Row­ers above the age of 21 are con­sid­ered mas­ter row­ers, the age group that forms the bulk of the Des Moines Row­ing Club. Male, female, and mixed crews row in two– four– or eight-person sweep boats with a cox. Each crew rows at least once a week. Most sweep row­ers in our club have learned to row through our sum­mer novice pro­gram but we do wel­come row­ers trans­fer­ring from other clubs.

Open Row­ers | Row­ers at ages 19 and 20 are beyond junior sta­tus, yet not old enough to row at the mas­ter level. They are open sweep row­ers. We wel­come row­ers of these ages and will help to offer a row­ing expe­ri­ence at their level. Typ­i­cally, row­ers in this age group are col­le­giate row­ers who join the club to train on the water dur­ing their sum­mer sea­son. We learn as much from them as they do from us.

Novice Row­ers | Each sum­mer, club mem­bers vol­un­tar­ily run a Learn-to-Row pro­gram for any­one in the com­mu­nity inter­ested. The pro­gram con­sists of a 16-week train­ing course with the option of row­ing as a novice in the Head of the Des Moines Regatta in Sep­tem­ber. The club cur­rently trains about 72 new row­ers each year. Novices pay a nom­i­nal fee for their first sea­son and ben­e­fit from club vol­un­teer train­ing and use of club equipment.

Juniors Pro­gram

Juniors are full-time high school stu­dents between the ages of 14 and 18. The club wel­comes high-school stu­dents into the novice pro­gram and trains them as junior crew mem­bers under the guid­ance of a vol­un­teer coach and/or cox. The goal is to group the juniors into crews to build team spirit, lead­er­ship, and the oppor­tu­nity for improve­ment in strength and coordination.

Sculling Pro­grams

Recre­ational and rac­ing sin­gles, dou­bles, and a quad are avail­able for appro­pri­ately trained scullers to use in our club. The club offers sculling lessons to row­ers of all ages and begin­ner to mod­er­ate lev­els. The same age cat­e­gories that exist for sweep row­ing also exist for sculling: mas­ter, open or col­le­giate, junior, and novice. Sculling is dif­fer­ent from sweep row­ing in that each rower holds two oars, one in each hand, so each per­son helps to con­trol bal­ance on both sides of the boat. Any club row­ers may join our Learn to Scull Pro­gram. Ini­tially, this con­sists of at least six ses­sions focus­ing on the skills begin­ners need. This is usu­ally fol­lowed by prac­tice on a lake or other safe set­ting with a sculling part­ner. With more expe­ri­ence and men­tor­ing in sin­gles and dou­bles, scullers are invited to scull on the river and per­haps try sculling in the quad.


Good coxswains are cheer­lead­ers for their crews and ambas­sadors for the club. While most club coxes cur­rently come from the row­ers’ ranks, the club would like to develop tal­ented peo­ple who can focus on cox­ing. The gen­eral rec­om­men­da­tion is for row­ers in their sec­ond or third year of row­ing to take the cox­ing clinic. Coxes not only earn vol­un­teer hour cred­its for cox­ing, but they also improve their own row­ing and lead­er­ship skills. The club teaches a two-part cox­ing clinic for all lev­els (the­ory on land, then on-the-water) twice in the spring or early summer.

Trav­el­ing Pro­gram for Away Regattas

Our most com­pet­i­tive row­ers and scullers often travel to other cities and states to com­pete against other crews. This is a great way to rep­re­sent Des Moines, develop a team spirit, and see row­ing sites around the Mid­west and around the coun­try. We have a club trailer to trans­port our boats and depend on vol­un­teers to pull the trailer and share in boat trans­porta­tion costs.


Cur­rently club mem­bers pay for indi­vid­ual coach­ing as desired. The club has sev­eral coaches avail­able, in addi­tion to coaches from the Drake Uni­ver­sity Crew pro­gram, an NCAA pro­gram that shares our boathouse.


Regat­tas around the coun­try need nation­ally accred­ited offi­cials to run the events safely and fairly. Cur­rently two offi­cials rep­re­sent Des Moines as United States Row­ing Asso­ci­a­tion (USRA)-sanctioned offi­cials. They have offi­ci­ated all over the Mid­west as well as at NCAA Women’s Nation­als, US Row­ing Nation­als, North­west Regional Cham­pi­onships, and the Mid­west­ern Cham­pi­onships. The club hopes to develop more row­ing offi­cials to serve the sport and the growth of the row­ing com­mu­nity. To become an offi­cial, can­di­dates attend a clinic, observe at least six regat­tas, and take a writ­ten test. Once trained, an offi­cial is eli­gi­ble to serve at most regat­tas in the United States.