Intensive Training

Para Rowing Foundation Hosts Inclusive Rowing Camp

Para Rowing Foundation Hosts Inclusive Rowing Camp

A small group of para rowing athletes will be heading to Portugal to take part in an intimate adaptive rowing camp, hosted by the Para Rowing Foundation.

The Para Rowing Foundation, chaired by Steven Dowd, is gearing up to host a para rowing camp. The multi-day event, which runs March 15-21 at the internationally acclaimed Avis Training Center in Portugal, aims to bring together a small group of para athletes and provide them with expert coaching and training.

Dowd, who acquired a spinal-cord injury in a 2016 cycling accident, found solace and empowerment through rowing after his injury.

“Going from a normal life to becoming paralyzed from the neck down was incredibly challenging,” says Dowd. “Rowing gave me a new sense of purpose and showed me that I could still lead an active, fulfilling life despite my disability.”

The upcoming para rowing camp exemplifies the foundation’s mission of making the sport accessible to all. Attendees will receive personalized instruction from elite coaches and Paralympic rowers. But beyond just technical skills, the camp strives to cultivate an inclusive, uplifting environment.

“We want every participant to feel empowered, valued and part of our para rowing community,” says Dowd. “The camp is about much more than just rowing – it’s about connection, camaraderie and redefining what’s possible.”

In addition to on-water rowing sessions, the camp will feature motivational speakers, adaptive fitness clinics and social activities designed to inspire and unite the athletes.

For para rower Alanna Flax-Clark, the upcoming Para Rowing Foundation intensive training camp in Portugal represents an incredible opportunity for growth and connection.

“I can’t do it, but I have to do it because this is just such an amazing experience,” she says of being accepted to the prestigious multi-day event.


Alanna Flax-Clark (left) works out with the Rockland Rowing Club. (Photo courtesy Flax-Clark).

Flax-Clark, a high-level quad, had been rowing with Rockland Rowing, a club in New York, while relentlessly working to improve her abilities. A key challenge has been finding an effective way to grip the oar handles.

“We had just never found the right solution,” she says.

But one of the most impactful developments has been the creation of specialized oar grips, the product of a collaboration between Flax-Clark and Mark Fuglevand, founder of Abilitease Adaptive.

“It’s very complicated, and I can’t tell you exactly how it works,” she says of the design that allows her an unprecedented range of motion on the oar handles.

As she prepares to bring the grips to the Portugal camp, Flax-Clark is in awe of the community that has rallied around her.

“All of a sudden, all this support was reaching out to me … you’re just surrounded by this great community,” she says.

The Para Rowing Foundation’s commitment to inclusivity stems from Dowd’s own “Enduro Challenge” events during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As the world grappled with isolation, he envisioned using indoor rowing to bring people together globally in a shared experience.

“Rowing became the framework to transcend borders and create that connection we all craved,” Dowd says. “With this camp, we’re channeling that same energy of community and belonging, but focused specifically on the para rowing community.”

While the expensive Training Intensives are limited by funding, Para Rowing Foundation offers diverse support avenues like cash grants, equipment, coaching, sports psychology and more.

Athletes are encouraged to share their stories so Para Rowing Foundation can help them overcome challenges and fulfill their rowing ambitions.

As a global 501(c)3 nonprofit, Para Rowing Foundation provides equal support opportunities worldwide, embodying internationality at its core. No matter their nationality or location, Para Rowing Foundation wants to hear from athletes striving to reach their potential in this sport.



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