Rowing Programs

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 senior


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.


Junior 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.