Another recreation option is coming to Fayette County following a unanimous vote of support from county commissioners Thursday night. The vote creates a Youth Athletic Association Agreement between the Fayette County Parks and Recreation Department and the Peachtree City Rowing Club, allowing for the club to use Lake McIntosh as a venue for the sport.
Megan Gradek spoke on behalf of the Peachtree City Rowing Club, sharing her enthusiasm for the sport and its potential in the county.
The Rowing Club, with their eyes set on putting boats in the lake in early July, will begin by offering high school and middle school rowing programs, Masters rowing programs, and recreation department summer programs for kids.
With a view towards the future, the club hopes that growth could lead to rowing eventually becoming an officially recognized school sport. That prospect could be especially exciting for girls, as the sport has the highest rate of scholarships. Gradek noted that the largest number of women’s college scholarships relative to the number of high school participants in a sport comes in rowing, where 52% of girls who apply for scholarships get them.
Gradek, who has competed in rowing for the U.S. National Team, noted that Lake McIntosh has the potential to host some tremendous events down the road.
“We could indeed host a very large scale international regatta one day,” said Gradek. “It’s a great venue.”
While the county will put some money upfront to help jumpstart the program, particularly to help improve facilities, the $25,000 to $30,000 they would provide will be minimal thanks to the assistance of Row America. Row America is a program dedicated to helping grow the sport, and they will supply the bulk of what is needed, namely coaches and equipment. The biggest cost savings will be in Row America supplying the boats that would typically cost about $40,000 apiece.
“I was shocked at how many rowers actually live in Fayette County,” said Commissioner Steve Brown, who expressed particular interest in eventually seeing it become a certified high school sport. “It’s going to be a great program.”