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Wounded Warriors and Para-Athletes to Race at the San Diego Crew Classic

by Ed Moran, ed@usrowing.com | Feb 23, 2015
Years ago, during the Saturday lunch break at the San Diego Crew Classic, a locally based Navy Seal team would parachute into the waters of Mission Bay. It was the organizers’ way to both provide entertainment and involve the military in the event.

  Oklahoma City Warriors team to row in San Diego Crew Classic

Years ago, during the Saturday lunch break at the San Diego Crew Classic, a locally based Navy Seal team would parachute into the waters of Mission Bay. It was the organizers’ way to both provide entertainment and involve the military in the event.

That eventually stopped after 2001, said Darlene Disney, who was named executive director of the regatta last year. In planning for this year, Disney and her board of directors thought about bringing the Seals back. But they couldn’t accommodate the date.

“That got us thinking,” she said. “San Diego is a Navy town, and we thought we should honor and pay tribute to them, not just the Navy, but all the local military.” The San Diego naval base is the largest base the Navy has on the West coast, and one of its installations is the Naval Medical Center San Diego.

After years of war, San Diego became home to countless military recovering from wounds suffered in Afghanistan and Iraq. As part of their recovery effort, a Wounded Warrior group began rowing out of the San Diego Rowing Club.

And the idea came up to not only bring the local military in as exhibition, but as athletes. The result is a first-ever Wounded Warrior and Para-rowing event to be held at the Crew Classic.

“It’s really generated a lot of excitement, not just here with us, but in the community,” Disney said. According to Disney, there are currently crews coming from Oklahoma City, South Dakota, Colorado and San Diego, and possibly one from Boston’s Community Rowing, Inc.

Also, working in conjunction with USRowing, adaptive crews are coming to race. Disney said there are going to be two events run Saturday, March 28, during the lunch break, with all crews rowing in eights.

“Darlene Disney and Chris Swan, president of the San Diego Crew Classic, were truly the inspiration for this military exhibition race,” said USRowing Director of Para-Rowing Tom Darling. “They held a military recognition event a few years ago and had several parachutists floating down to the beach with a trail of colored flares behind them, and Darlene had the idea to resurrect it.

“I am very grateful to both of them for supporting this military exhibition, especially in a place like San Diego that has such a large military population. A few of our military athletes, both arms and shoulders and trunk and arms athletes, had their rehab at Integra San Diego Medical Center and are looking forward to coming back,” Darling said.

Disney said the Navy is sending volunteers to assist the crews and help them launch their boats from the shore into Mission Bay.

“We’re still working on some more crews; we’re still building,” Disney said. “But we’re excited. This is the first year of doing this, and we hope to really generate some enthusiasm for next year and grow it each year going forward.” 
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