Taking to the Tank – Inclusive Rowing in Durham

A new and inclusive rowing programme has been launched in Co. Durham, enabling young people with SEN to get out onto the water and have a go at rowing.

The partnership programme is led by Durham Trinity School and Sports College and supported by Durham Amateur Rowing Club, who have allocated a coach through the Stewards’ Charitable Trust to deliver weekly sessions, as well as providing their club facility and stables boats to get the youngsters out onto the water. Durham University is providing coaches, facilities and access to their indoor rowing tank – a key facility to help rowing become more accessible to people with SEN. British Rowing’s Rowability Project Officer, Katherine Morris, will be supporting the programme alongside County Durham Sport, to ensure that the rowing activities are as inclusive as possible to SEN participants.

The project’s long aim is to support DARC, the local rowing club, as it continues to offer youngsters with SEN the opportunity to row if they wish to pursue rowing outside of school.

Funding secured by Durham Trinity School and Sports College through the Get Set Network from the British Olympic Committee will be supported further by time and resources from a variety of partners including, DARC (through their SCT coach), Durham University and County Durham Sport (Co. Durham’s County Sports Partnership).

The programme will run for up to 12 weeks, with weekly activity sessions giving young people the opportunity to experience rowing on indoor rowing machines and in Durham University’s state-of-the-art rowing tank. There will also be the opportunity to progress into stable boats out on the River Wear.

The University’s rowing tank (a rowing boat simulator – allowing people to experience the feeling of being in an eight person boat on the water but in a fully-controlled and safe environment) is a key element to being able to introduce young people with such varying SEN to rowing.

The success of this programme is reliant on the support and commitment from a number of partners, including County Durham Sport which has supported the development of the partnership, as well as bringing partners together to help to strengthen delivery, access to facilities and help to explore ongoing rowing opportunities for young people with SEN. 

Three schools who attended the launch event on Wednesday – Durham Trinity School and Sports College, King James and The Oaks – each bringing six to eight pupils with SEN. The programme will work with a minimum of six schools in the county, who will each identify a small group of young people with SEN to take part in the programme.

The launch event, held at Durham University’s rowing tank, put an emphasis on fun and social rowing, encouraging the pupils to have a go on both the rowing machines as well as the rowing tank. Holly, a student from King James who had never had the opportunity to try rowing before, was very excited to be involved. After experiencing the first session on the rowing machines last week, this was her first time in the tank. After taking the stroke seat in the tank, she enthusiastically explained that she’d enjoyed the experience and that it was “awesome leading the group”. Holly has aspirations of one day taking to the water, sooner rather than later.

For more information about the project, contact Becks Lippe, County Durham Sport: becks.lippe@durham.gov.uk.