Rowing Club gliding along

Two teams of rowers set out from Eagle Harbor’s Waterfront Park during Learn to Row Day on June 11. The event attracted about 25 novices  and saw dedication of a new shell storage facility. - Photo courtesy of Bainbridge Island Rowing Club
Two teams of rowers set out from Eagle Harbor’s Waterfront Park during Learn to Row Day on June 11. The event attracted about 25 novices and saw dedication of a new shell storage facility.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Bainbridge Island Rowing Club

A new facility for shell storage is dedicated at Waterfront Park.

She may be mayor, but on this day she was just one of eight sets of hands manning the oars of the rowing shell “Winslow” in Eagle Harbor.

Joined by several of her staff, Darlene Kordonowy took advantage of National Learn to Row Day June 11, and the occasion of the dedication of the new Bainbridge Island Rowing Club facility at Waterfront Park.

“I thought they did remarkably well,” said club president Dee McComb, of the 25 novice boaters who turned out to experience the challenging world of rowing.

“The last boat of ‘newbies’ were great sports,” she said. “We came back drenched from the downpour, and they were all smiles. I think we have some new enthusiasts.”

On hand for the dedication prior to the lessons were two Bainbridge residents who found rowing fame.

Olympic athletes both, Jim McMillin and Ted Frost helped christen two new black boats named in their honor.

McMillin bore his gold medal from the 1936 games. He won it in dramatic fashion as a member of the eight-man University of Washington team in Berlin, coming from behind to catch the state-sponsored Italian and German crews.

Frost was there with his wife, son and grandchildren, each with their own rowing stories to tell of the connection it has given their lives.

Following his love of rowing, nurtured early under the guidance of Charles Moriarity in the Green Lake area of Seattle, Frost met his wife through his rowing years at the UW.

The military invited him back from duty in Korea to pursue the sport on a national level.

Missing the 1956 Olympics by a breath of wind, literally, his Husky crew and their innovative boat went on to represent America in Rome in 1960.

“I didn’t think much of it at the time,” Frost said of their fifth-place Olympic finish. “But with the perspective of time, it grows in significance to me.”

Founded in 2001 to promote the sport of rowing on Bainbridge and in the county, BIRC has roughly 90 members. It has relocated its boatyard west along the waterfront to facilitate construction of new restrooms now in the planning stage.

Their fleet now includes five eight-oar shells and five four-oar boats, as well as several private sculls oftentimes available to experienced rowers.

On the occasion of the official opening of their new “temporary, permanent facility,” approximately 70 visitors were on hand for the speeches and ribbon cutting, to go along with the traditional christening ceremony over the bows of both new boats.

Morgan Seeley, the junior rowing coach who oversees the participation of 40 island youths who compete across spring, summer and fall, regaled the gathering with stories of the two honorees.

Seeley painted the broad vista of the Northwest region’s prominent role in the history of the sport and highlighted the hard work, humour and accomplishments of both Olympians.

Michelle Fischer, executive assistant to the mayor at City Hall, gave herself a birthday present by getting up early and making the drive from her home in Silverdale for the new experience.

“It was a huge accomplishment, I think – we came back dry,” Fischer said. “(It was) a great experience to get out on the water and learn how to row. And to see Eagle Harbor from a different viewpoint. Absolutely worth it.”

The mayor’s entourage was in the first boat out. Fischer noted the difference in seeing the features of the inner harbor from what you see from the ferry.

“We were lower, at water level, looking at the boats, the homes, the shore,” Fischer said. “It was fabulous.”

* * * * *

All in a row

Junior rowing is now under way, and Learn to Row classes are currently being offered through the park district (842-2306). For more information, see, call 842-2004 or email

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