Moving meditation: The rhythm of rowing drawing enthusiasts in Grand Lake |

Moving meditation: The rhythm of rowing drawing enthusiasts in Grand Lake

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News


If only all mornings were like this.

I’m in the middle of Grand Lake, and an early morning fog enshrouds the shores like a silk-chiffon veil.

A warm and rising sun squeezes through.

I sense the giant mound of Mount Craig is only a curtain call away.

My boat is a touring skull, the bow pointed in the direction behind me.

I dip my oars, and with the power of leg muscle, thrust a stroke, sending my boat into a glide.

I then return the oars to their position for another beat.

It’s my very first time in a rowing vessel, with a sliding seat on a track, and already a quiet rhythm has begun.

If I over think the strokes ” learned from Mountain Row Tech’s Simon O’Connor only a few moments earlier ” no matter. I just rest my oars and float, a chance to take in the moment.

It’s this meditation that has rowers such as Diane Butler of Grand Lake engaging in

the sport.

“It’s really a matching of the body and mind. It’s more than a sport,” Butler said, after her morning row. “It allows you to be in the moment, which is so hard to do, but out there you really truly get there.”

The boats provided by Simon and Candy O’Connor of Mountain Row, Grand Lake,

are more user-friendly versions than the long-narrow skulls seen in Olympic racing.

The couple searched out such boats, built in Normandy, France, for their “master of simplicity” design, Simon said. They are made with recycled plastics.

The O’Connors are former owners of the restaurant, Carvers, in Winter Park. After 15 years of early rising to meet the needs of breakfast diners, the couple opted to cater to their own appetites for exercise and a love of the water.

They opened their rowing business this spring, located next door to the Kauffman House Museum. As many as six “beginner” rowing skulls and catamarans and four more-advanced skulls are available for rent.

Included in an introductory rental is an instructional session. Rowing packages are priced from $20 for an hour to $35 for two hours.

Other than a handful of people coming out of the woodwork with college rowing backgrounds, “We’re starting from absolute zero. We’re trying to build a culture here, no one knows anything about it,” Simon said.

Rowing offers a low-impact workout that relies on leg strength, the strongest muscles in the human body.

“Maybe that’s why women are enjoying it,” Simon said. “They don’t feel like they need those big brawny muscles.”

The sport even engages core stomach and back muscles, labeled the key to physical fitness.

Through Mountain Tech, Diane Butler has arranged women’s rowing retreats that generally culminate with a shared bottle of wine. These rowing “Ladies’ Nights” take place Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

The O’Connors plan to schedule men’s outings as well.

Novice rower Kathy Gunter of Winter Park calls the experience “peaceful.”

“The smoothness of a rhythm allows you to get into that tranquil state,” Butler said.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail