Adaptive Rowing

Adaptive rowing is a relatively new addition to the Paralympic roster, but that doesn’t mean it’s hard to get involved.

There are a number of clubs across the country that either offer specialised sessions or are completely devoted to adaptive rowing. Separated by classification, adaptive rowing is a test of strength, determination and stamina. The world stage is dominated by Great Britain, could you be the next big thing?

Adaptive rowing is rowing for persons with a disability and is about removing barriers to participation in the sport for anyone who has a physical, sensory or learning impairment. Adaptive rowing is a test of physical fitness and mental toughness.The first rowing club for those with a disability was affiliated to British Rowing in 1998 and there are now a number of clubs that offer, or are dedicated to, Adaptive rowing. Advances in the equipment available for rowers with a disability and the ever-increasing number of accessible rowing venues, has meant that rowing is truly becoming a sport for all.

Great Britain’s success at international level is also proving an inspiration. The GB Rowing Team have been winning gold medals at World Championships since 2003. At the Paralympic Games in Beijing 2008, the sport of rowing was included for the first time. GB single scullers, Helene Raynsford and Tom Aggar both brought home gold medals for the team.

Adaptive rowing has four boat classes, all of which race over 1000m on a still water, straight course.

• LTA 4+ (Legs, trunk & arms coxed 4) – for rowers with a verifiable and permanent disability who have functional use of their legs, trunk and arms for rowing, and who can utilise the sliding seat to propel the boat.

• TA 2x (Trunk and arms double scull) – The TA class is for rowers who have functional use of the trunk movement and who are unable to use the sliding seat to propel the boat because of significantly weakened function or mobility of the lower limbs.
• ASM1x (Mens arms and shoulder single scull) – The AS class is for rowers who have no or minimal trunk function. An AS class rower is able to apply force predominantly using the arms and/or shoulders. These rowers will also likely have decreased sitting balance.
• ASW1x (Womens arms and shoulders single scull) – As above.

Although the boats may have some adaptations to accommodate disable rowers, in most other areas it meets the rules and regulations for able bodied rowers. In non-Paralympic years, rowing is the only sport to have a fully inclusive World Championships. In the 3 years since Beijing, the team have won 5 World Championship titles (3 in the ASM1x and 2 in the LTA4+).
A record 26 nations competed in Adaptive Rowing events at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.