Spring FAQ (click on each heading for more details about practices, spring break, etc.)

Spring Break

What Happens During Spring Break?

The club takes rowers to a mandatory Spring Break Training Camp. This has proven to be a very effective training tool, since it gives rowers concentrated time to row early in the season. In most years, early season training is difficult due to weather conditions. The training has been held locally (at TBC) due to timing of FCPS spring break and the team's regatta schedule.


What is the practice schedule?

Spring on-the-water practices will take place five days a week after school and (before regatta season begins) on Saturdays. The schedule varies by boat; your son/daughter typically will be practicing from 4 to 7 pm four or five days a week, not counting transportation time. As much as possible, coaches will let rowers know in advance of any changes in training/practice schedules. There is a lot to get done in one practice and it takes each rower’s participation to get it all done and have plenty of time on the water: loading the launches with safety equipment and gas cans, getting out oars, getting the boat on the dock, launching within 2 minutes of setting the boat in the water, getting back off the dock at the end of practice within 2 minutes of landing, putting the boat away and strapping it down, putting the oars away, returning the safety equipment and gas cans to where they are stored. And also putting in the effort and focus needed on the water to have a productive practice. What happens between 3:30 when the bus leaves MHS to when we return (ideally between 7 and 7:15 pm) is a snapshot of what goes on to make this possible. Our parent volunteers put in a lot of time making sure we have everything we need to have the best practices possible. This week, parent volunteers delivered launches to the boathouse, organized safety gear and delivered it to TBC, coordinated the buses, chaperoned our rowers to and from TBC, worked on fundraising activities (Subway and Mulch Madness), and made sure all our rowers’ paperwork was in order and in accordance with the both the club’s and FCPS’ policies. I know parent volunteers are also working this week on Spring Break activities and coordinating volunteers for the regattas. Many, many thanks to all of you for getting us on the water this week! A few reminders to help make the most of the crew season: ** Rowers need to let the coaches know well in advance of any planned absences, either by email or remind.com If a rower misses practice, the coaches need to move rowers from other boats to fill the seat of the absent rower. Rowers who are sick should also let the coaches know as soon as possible about his or her illness, and it really helps if rowers can update coaches on how the recovery is progressing. We understand that rowers will need to miss practice for a variety of reasons, and that once he or she returns to practice there may be a period of “catch-up” time on skills and/or fitness. This may mean that the rower does not return to the boat in which he or she rowed. Our boats are made up of rowers, as much as possible, with similar skill sets and fitness levels. ** Rowers should bring something to eat on the way home from practice that is mostly carbohydrates with some protein. Refillable water bottles are also important. ** On Saturdays, MCC does not provide the bus transportation to TBC. It would be great if some families could carpool.

How will my son/daughter get to the boathouse for weekday practices?

The club hires a bus to take all rowers to TBC (and return them to MHS) after school five days a week during the spring rowing season. If you're picking kids up in the evening and would like to limit the amount of time you spend waiting for them, ask them to call you when the bus leaves TBC; the trip typically takes about 20 minutes. Some older team members drive themselves to and from school and TBC. If they have their parents permission and fill out an FCPS Field Trip Driver's License and Vehicle Insurance Information form, they may transport other students to and from the boathouse. Note: Under Virginia law, drivers under the age of 18 who have had their licenses for less than one year may only carry one passenger under the age of 18 (excluding siblings). Those who have had their license for at least one year but have not yet turned 18 may carry three passengers under the age of 18.) No bus is provided for before-school (early morning) practices or to the Introduction to Rowing program in the Fall. Parents are responsible for monitoring how their kids get to and from all practices and regattas.

It can be really cold in March and really hot in May. What should my son/daughter wear to on-the-water practice?

When it's cold, the key word is layering. Kids should wear at least three layers: a base layer that is thin, form fitting, and will wick moisture away from the skin; a layer of insulation that is thicker than the base layer but not bulky (synthetic fleece sweats work well); and a windblock layer (which should be water-resistant but breathable). The uni or tight-fitting shorts and a tank top are the perfect first layer; a long-sleeve lycra or UnderArmor top and long tights or pants make a great second layer. Avoid cotton and down, both of which get heavy and lose their ability to insulate when they get wet. Also avoid loose-fitting sweats or basketball shorts, since they can get caught in the slides. Coxswains generally will need to dress more warmly than rowers, since they won't get warmed up exercising. Many rowers wear a stocking cap in all but the warmest weather. As rowers warm up, they can remove layers and place them in the boat by their feet. After practice, they can quickly layer up again. When the weather is hot, most rowers just wear unis or tight-fitting shorts and tank tops, but encourage your kid to bring along a tee or sweatshirt to cover up with when they cool down after practice. We strongly suggest that you or your kids label ALL their clothing-you'd be surprised what gets left at regattas and practices!

What do rowers need to take with them to the boathouse?

They should always have a water bottle with them, as well as sunscreen and good running shoes for land training (which may take place at the boathouse as well as at school). A change of clothing-particularly dry socks-is also useful (even on dry days, rowers can get splashed and soaked). For after-school practices, they should bring a healthy snack to eat before going out on the water--something that will sustain their energy level, such as fruit, bagels, sandwiches, granola bars, etc.

My son's/daughter's hands are developing blisters from the oar. What should I do about this?

Blisters are a hazard of rowing that affects everyone at the beginning of the season, until their hands develop protective calluses. Medical tape and/or adhesive bandages may help protect blisters until calluses form.


What, When, and Where are regattas?

Regattas are organized boating competitions. McLean Crew races in local regattas from Thompson’s Boat House on the Potomac River, and Sandy Run Park on the Occoquan River. (For a list of where and when we are racing this spring, see the "schedule" page on the website.) These local regattas generally are held on Saturdays and last most of the day. Parents are responsible for providing transportation to regattas. Regatta schedules usually are available a night or two before a race, and will be posted on this website as soon as possible. Coaches will notify rowers when they need to arrive on the day before the event. Coxswains usually need to arrive early for a meeting, which typically is held the morning of the regatta. Lightweight rowers also typically arrive early for weigh-ins. All regattas are staffed by volunteers, and one adult from each rower's family must volunteer for at least one job at one local regatta each spring. Please be courteous and supportive-it may be you working at the next one!

When does the regatta season begin and end?

It will begin the last week in March for varsity boats and the first week of April for novice boats. The novice season will end with the Lower Boats Championships (the Ted Phoenix Regatta) in early May; the end of the season for varsity boats will depend on how well they do, but could extend through June for boats that qualify for the Canadian Secondary School Rowing Association (CSSRA) championships in Canada.

How does McLean Crew get its boats from Georgetown to the other regatta sites?

A qualified driver pulls our trailer to away sites. This means that rowers typically need to de-rig their boats and load them on the trailer at the end of their Friday practice, and will need to help set them up (rig) again before Monday’s practice.

Is there food available at the regattas, or will my kids need to bring a lunch with them every Saturday?

The club sets up a "food tent" from our cargo trailer at most regattas to provide food for the rowers. Parent volunteers prepare food, bring purchased items (food and beverage), set up and take the 'tents' down and pack up the trailer at the end of the day. At Occoquan regattas, there are also two concession stands where food can be purchased.

Is there anything else I should know about the food tent?

Only that it's a great place to volunteer to support the crew, get to know other parents, catch up on race results, and meet your kid at the end of the regatta!

Can my child leave the regatta as soon as his/her race is over?

No. After their races, rowers are responsible for getting their boats back to the trailer and de-rigging them. After that's done, it's generally considered good sportsmanship to stick around until the end of the regatta and cheer on the rest of the team. Your child's responsibilities continue even after the end of the regatta. When we race at Occoquan, our boats must be taken back to Georgetown and returned to the racks there. Depending on water, weather, and/or traffic conditions, this may take place immediately after the regatta or be postponed until the following day (Sunday). In general, rowers should check in with their coach and/or coxswain before leaving the regatta site.

What about "away" regattas?

These are regional or national competitions that are held outside the Washington, D.C. metro area. Competitive varsity boats also will compete at the Stotesbury Cup Regatta in Philadelphia. Qualifying varsity boats also may compete at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America (Nationals) championships. Other out- of-town regattas may be selected by the coaches.


I have a question for my kid's coach. What's the best time to ask him or her?

The most convenient time to talk with a coach is at the parent’s membership meeting, which is held the 2nd Tuesday of each month, October through May. Please don't try to engage coaches in conversation during a regatta since the coaches' minds are generally preoccupied with race matters, they probably won't remember anything you say!

What's the best way for me to learn more about crew?

Volunteer to help! The club relies on its parents and kids to provide a lot of volunteer labor. Look at the Membership Handbook for descriptions of the many volunteer opportunities available, which range from organizing fundraising activities to coordinating food preparation for regattas and from boat and equipment maintenance to managing out-of-town regattas. Call or email a board member or committee chair responsible for the type of work you're interested in -they'll be thrilled to hear from you!


VASRA Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association (www.vasra.org); McLean Crew is a member of VASRA, which is the association that organizes the local regattas. Erg Short for Ergometer, a rowing machine. Here is a link that shows what they look like: (www.concept2.com) Ergathon The Ergathon is a fund-raiser in which the rowers obtain pledges, and then row to raise the money. Last year, McLean Crew’s Ergathon took place in January outside of Books-A-Million where we placed a battery of ergs. Participants row in shifts of approximately 45 minutes. Mid-Atlantic Erg Sprints A day of indoor racing on ergs that occurs in February. McLean Crew participates in this event. Since the Erg Sprints occur a few weeks before regatta season starts, it gives the team members a chance to compete with others in the region. All the ergs are electronically linked. This event is not limited to high school students. Adults – you can compete in your age category too. Mulch Weekend The biggest fundraiser of the year for McLean Crew is the mulch sale. Last year, the club delivered 18,000+ bags of high quality mulch to people’s doorsteps. Take a look at some of the pictures from to get an idea of the magnitude of the project. Spring Break Spring Break training camp gives the team valuable time on the water. In prior years, McLean Crew helds a training camp in South Carolina during spring break since conditions in March can often be too cold and the Potomac can also experience flooding. In recent years, Spring Break has been held locally with extended practices during the day and team building events throughout the week.