One of the most active sporting programs in the country, that of the Nassau Rowing Club (NRC), is beginning to reap the rewards from increased membership and ongoing activities.
Head Coach and Program Director of the Nassau Rowing Club KariAnne Kulig said that their membership has tripled in the last year alone. They cater to athletes from as young as 11-years-old, and work out on a regular basis at Lake Cunningham here in New Providence. The NRC has been in existence since 2012, and orchestrate weekly summer camps for the young and the not so young from 8:30 a.m. to noon, Monday to Friday. In the fall, a junior team travels to a regattas in the Unite States to compete.
“There is a lot of potential here. There are a lot of strong athletes on this island, and in The Bahamas in general. We start from as young as 11-years-old, but out oldest member is 74 so there really is no age limit,” said Kurig. “With the juniors, we want to place them in college for rowing, for them to be to the level where they could get scholarships for rowing. In a couple of years, I would like to see us competing fiercely internationally, and they certainly have the talent for that. Here we do cardio work, swim and go to the gym – all in an effort to keep our rowers active and make them stronger.”
One junior rower in particular, 13-year-old Naima Nixon, is visiting from Exuma. She is here on the capital island of New Providence, training with the NRC, to improve her skills in rowing.
“You need technique and lot of endurance, but I am motivated to be the best that I could be,” she said. “It is hard, but in life, you must work hard to go ahead. I push myself hard every day. I enjoy being in the water with my teammates. Coach KariAnne is an excellent instructor. I have gotten to know more about the sport under her guidance. I would really like to encourage teenage children and adults to try rowing. It’s a lot of fun.”
Nixon, a ninth grader at St. Andrew’s Anglican School in George Town, Exuma, is staying with a local family during her time here in New Providence. She said she likes being on the water because it has a calming effect, and has grown to appreciate and like the sporting discipline of rowing.
“Naima is here to learn more about rowing and to improve her skills. She is improving every day. All of our juniors are intrigued and very competitive,” said Kulig. “They want to learn a new sport, and try something different. A lot of them cross train with swimming. They use the same muscle group for swimming so a lot of swimmers make good rowers. As for Naima, she loves the water and enjoys rowing. The goal for her is to get stronger and faster, and to hopefully start racing in the fall.”
Kulig has been the chief instructor at NRC for about a year. She hails from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has been a professional rowing coach for the past 15 years. She is also a teacher.
“This is a great opportunity for me. I love the people here and I love the rowers,” she said. “The rowing community has been very welcoming and the atmosphere is great. This is where I want to be for the next few years.”
The rowing program at NRC is open to all Bahamians and residents of The Bahamas. Kulig said that the goal is for continued growth and to produce world-class rowers for international events.
“Well, we start off with the basics of rowing, and we go into sweep rowing and sculling,” said Kulig. “We want the kids to be competitive at world-class levels, and to eventually qualify for the Olympics. One of our juniors for instance, Chrishante Laing, enjoys the sport and is very determined. She wants to go to an Ivy League School, and possibly compete at the Olympics. Right now, we have 20 members on the junior team which is open to anyone in high school. We also have about 10 active adult members.”
The NRC is sending two young rowers, Ethan and William Stanhope, to the junior worlds in Tokyo, Japan, later this summer. That event, the 2019 FISA (International Rowing Federation) World Rowing Junior Championships, is set for August 7-11 in Tokyo.
Emily Morley was the first Bahamian, male or female, to compete in rowing at the Olympic Games. She took part in the women’s single sculls at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Kulig said they offer learn-to-row sessions for adults on Saturdays from 8:30-10 a.m.
Education: College of The Bahamas, Associates in Accounting