THINK of rowing and you will undoubtedly immediately focus on the University boat race or some of Team GB’s greatest ever Olympians.

But below the elite level of the sport is a less well known social side which the Southend Coastal Rowing Club is keen to help bolster.

And their club captain Gerry White is therefore keen to recruit new members.

“We’ve been going seven months and it would be great to start getting a few more people done to join us,” said White.

“We set up the club because we felt there was a growing need for a friendly, open rowing club within the Southend area.

“As a club we want to build something that is welcoming to new members be they novices or experienced rowers and it’s important to try and get rid of the stigma that’s attached to the sport as well.

“People always think rowing is for posh schools and for very fit 20-year-olds who are at university.

“I used to think like that, but I got into it at an older age and realised I was completely wrong.

“Anyone can do it, it’s great fun, good exercise and it’s not all about doing competitions either because sometimes we just row to the pub for a pint.”

The Southend Coastal now boast fixed-seat gigs, skiffs and sliding-seat coastal boats which are available for all members to use.

And those taking part are also able to choose their own effort levels.

“When it comes to rowing you can make it as hard or as difficult as you want to be honest,” said White, who lives in Great Wakering.

“I’m not normally one to enjoy exercise but rowing makes it fun and also makes you use virtually every muscle in your body.

“It’s certainly worth coming down to try it out.”

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MY own previous experience of rowing had only ever come in a gym before I accepted Gerry’s invitation to give it a go.

Getting into the boat proved to be the first problem but once I was in I soon discovered the sport was far more technical than I had ever imagined.

Sliding along the seat had to be done in conjunction with moving your arms and the oars backwards and forwards, while also making sure they were at the right angle.

The timing also had to be correct along with the angles of the oars, the position they occupied in the water and making sure my hands did not get squashed together.

There was far more to think about than just moving up and down.

But the longer I did it, the more I understood what was required.

I also managed to not fall in which had been my biggest concern.

And I would definitely love to go back and give it another go.