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physical requirements for learn to row

In order to get the most out of your class and for your own safety, general fitness is required. You need to be able to:

  • lift 20-25 pounds overhead
  • touch your toes (more or less)
  • crouch down to get from the dock into the boat
  • have a good sense of balance
  • pass a swim test (see below)
  • size: we currently have one LTR boat that can handle people over 180 lbs. If you weigh 180 lbs. or more, please contact us to make sure we can reserve that boat for you.

If you're not sure you can handle this physically, please contact learntorow@mendotarowingclub.com with any questions. We can also arrange for you to come watch a practice and see what it's like.

Swim test

Swimming ability is required for class participation. Rowing is a water sport and it's important that you feel confident in the water in case of an emergency. The Swim Test is: swim 50 yards, tread water for 10 minutes, and then put on a life jacket.

If you can't get the swim test done before class, please let us know and we can set up a test during the class weekend.

Please bring your completed Swim Test Form, SCUBA certification or Life Guard certification to your first class.

What if I am not a strong swimmer?

  • You may take the swim test wearing a life jacket if necessary. However, if you take the swim test while wearing a life jacket, you must then wear your own life jacket at all times while in a boat. We recommend an automatic inflatable life jacket (available online or at shops such as Rutabaga and West Marine).
  • If you are unable to pass the swim test, you can drop the class and will be able to get a refund up to one week before class starts. If you think you might not be able to pass the swim test requirement, we suggest that you attempt to take the test before registering for a class.

How do I complete the swim test? 

  • You may complete the swim test at any pool that is convenient for you. Bring rowing clothes that you can swim in and our Swim Test Form for the pool lifeguard to sign when you complete the test. 
  • You may also take the swim test in the lake by the boathouse. Please contact our LTR coordinator to make arrangements.


Q: What should I wear for the swim test?

A: It's best to wear what you'll be rowing in. You want snug shorts or pants and a t-shirt. You don't need to wear shoes. (while we're rowing, we have our feet in special shoes that are attached to the boat. If you fall out of the boat, the shoes stay in it.)

Q: What if I'm already certified as a SCUBA diver or life guard?

A: Have you earned your certification within the last five years? If so, please send a picture or scan of your certification to our LTR coordinator. If your certification is more than five years old, please complete a swim test (or get re-certified).

Q: What pools can I use?

A: You're welcome to use any pool you have access to, as long as it has a lifeguard. A lot of pools are closed due to the pandemic.

The Middleton Aquatic Center has open swim time available for $4. You need to sign up for a time beforehand. They are strictly limiting attendance and taking a lot of precautions. Registration opens every Thursday for the next week (Monday-Sunday).

The YMCA has open pools, but you need to be a member to access them (day passes are not available during the pandemic).

The Goodman Pool will open July 15th.

Some private pools are open, like the Cherokee Country Club and Maple Bluff Country Club pools. If you know a member, these might be worth a try. I don't know if the lifeguards will do tests, so please call first.

Q: What if the pool doesn't have life jackets?

We can lend you one for the swim test. Please contact our LTR coordinator to arrange this.

Mailing Address:
PO Box 646
Madison, WI 53701

Boathouse Address:
622 E Gorham St
Madison, WI

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