At some point in the race, with lungs burning and legs numb, the mind will tell the oarsman to ease up. But exhausted crew members, with the hearts of champions, will rise to the challenge, or to the challenge of their opponents, and go above and beyond themselves. Oarsmen never forget such an experience. In that great common effort is the real secret of the almost religious feeling oarsmen have for their sport, and the affinity they feel for one another.
Rowing in a three-mile race can mirror the events in one's life. In the first mile, your legs are strong, your breathing relaxed; you are excited about the race. This is just like a new endeavor in your life.
Like the middle of life, the second mile becomes very difficult. Your legs burn, breathing is a struggle and your mind starts to wander. There are many midlife setbacks that must be overcome.
In the final mile, your mind is empty from exhaustion, your legs quiver and, with quick deep breaths, you row as hard as possible and leave everything on the water. Like life, the end of the race is the hardest part to reach, yet it is most satisfying.
Rowing also teaches humility, because oarsmen taste defeat many times before winning a major race. Rowing, like life, has many difficult setbacks, but you learn to show up for the next practice and persevere.
Tom Graham, who lives in East Aurora, is assistant rowing coach at Bishop Timon St. Jude High School.
Tom Graham: Teamwork of rowing teaches key life lessons
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