Rowers observe World Water Day
“Whoever you are, wherever you are, water is your human right”. United Nations World Water Day 22 March 2019.
To mark the day, World Rowing has asked some of the world’s top rowers to talk about what water means to them.
Water is essential to human life and for the world’s top rowing athletes, it is also their daily office say’s Emma Twigg.
“Right now I have the best ‘office’ in the world. Without clean water I wouldn’t be able to do what I love. Waterways are not only important to our natural environment and ecology but they also provide us a place to be active. We can all play a role in keeping our waterways and oceans clean and make sure that we preserve their natural beauty for future generations.” - Emma Twigg, New Zealand, women’s single sculls
Nearly every year our top rowers head to Lucerne, Switzerland to compete on the ‘Lake of the Gods’, the Rotsee. Switzerland is known for its clean waterways and stunning nature. Michael Schmid sees that every day.
“As a rower water has a very special meaning to me. Day by day I spend many hours gliding over it - sometimes with a lot of joy, other times with a lot of pain, but always with much gratitude. In Switzerland, we have many beautiful lakes and rivers accessible for rowing, which also have excellent water quality and help to ensure the drinking water supply. It is therefore our duty to protect the water and to help other people to get clean drinking water as well.” – Michael Schmid, Switzerland, lightweight men’s single sculls
Bodies of water are endlessly fascinating to the rower. Cameron Girdlestone cannot help but see potential.
“As a rower, I’m probably more interested in water than your average person. For example, when I pass any body of water no matter where I am in the world, I can’t help but think about rowing on it – lake, dam, pond, river, ocean – the thought always crosses my mind- ‘look at the glass water’.
“Growing up in Australia, it’s hard not to take for granted our access to clean water and how beautiful our beaches, harbours and lakes are. It’s up to us to make sure that future generations also get to experience these things. We cannot be afraid to talk about it and do our bit for the communities we live in, whether it be simple day to day behaviours, consciously thinking about where things may end up, like in our water way, or actively seeking community projects and lending a hand. As rowers who rely so heavily on water, we must give back and do our bit to protect our waterways for the future.” – Cameron Girdleston, Australia, men’s quadruple sculls
There are the problems associated with water. Not everyone in the world has access to safe, clean water. And that must change. Inge Janssen understands this.
“As a rower you are surrounded by water every day and you have to love it. The sounds, the bubbles, the places it can take you where you can't get to by foot. As an elite rower you spend so many hours on the water and I have rowed on many different bodies of water around the world. So of course, you care about the quality of water and you have a responsibility to keep it clean.
“But there is another side as well. We are privileged to perform the sport of rowing on mostly clean bodies of water. But on the occasions that was not the case, it was because there was a bigger issue around water. For example, in Rio (Olympics), there was a big discussion about the water quality and whether Olympic athletes were allowed to row on it. Of course the problem was much bigger (than the Olympics). Local rowers have to train every day on that water. And, even worse, many of the people around the lake didn't have access to clean drinking water and lacked good sewage systems. This is the problem that should have been the focus in my opinion!” – Inge Janssen, The Netherlands, women’s quadruple sculls.
This year’s World Water Day theme is: leaving no one behind. Let’s make sure the rowing community helps leave no one behind. For more information, visit the website.