Suncoast rowing crew on an even keel with rowers half their age

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Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014 5:18 pm

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. - In many places, after a certain age, people start to slow down and retire to the sidelines. But not on the Suncoast.

The Sarasota County Rowing Club has a boat made up of 8 female rowers over the age of 60, and they don't take a back seat to anybody. So far this year, they've already won two gold medals.

The boat is nicknamed "8 grand" because all of the 8 female rowers are over the grand age of 60. They're very dedicated. “We get here at 6:45…3 or 4 times a week," says rower Marybeth Home.

And they row with all their strength. "It’s hard, hard physical work."

And not only are these rowers over 60, they have survived bouts with cancer or other diseases. Home says rowing has been a great ally in her battle against cancer.

Her teammate Nancy Paul says at first they got some snickers when folks learned the crew was made up of senior citizens, but nobody's laughing now. "I'm over 60, and we're winning metals, and we're rowing against women who are half our age and we're right in there. We've won golds in the last 2 races we've been in. It's all about team work."

And it's not just the ladies. There are both male and female rowers on this boat, and neither are spring chickens. "This particular group…everyone here is a survivor of something," says rower Alan Kitty.

And he says several are rowing with artificial parts. But they're not putting down their oars, because they believe rowing is keeping their bodies flexible, and their mind sharp. They're in it till the end. "We all believe you stop rowing because your heart and your brain has ceased to function.”

And he says until that happens, they'll greet most mornings out on the water with an oar in their hands.

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