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Para Rowing: Rowing for Athletes with Disabilities

Para Rowing gives athletes with disabilities the chance to enjoy the sport of rowing. Here we feature a club in Toronto, the Argonaut Rowing Club (ARC), where athletes can participate recreationally or competitively.

What is Para Rowing?

Rowing is the act of propelling a boat through the water with the use of oars. Para rowing is an adaptive form of rowing. In para rowing, some athletes perform full rowing strokes using their arms, trunks, and legs. Others row using their trunks and arms while sitting on a fixed seat. Another class of rowers use their shoulders and arms while seated with support for their backs.

Argonaut Rowing Club

The Argonaut Rowing Club offers programs for rowers of all abilities and all skill levels. Programs serve rowers with disabilities, such as:

  • Blindness or visual impairment
  • Hearing impairment
  • Intellectual disabilities, such as Down Syndrome
  • Physical disabilities, such as:
    • Paraplegia
    • Quadriplegia
    • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
    • Cerebral palsy
    • Spina bifida
    • Amputations


The club offers a learn to row program for new rowers on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, with the option for extra private lessons when coaches and equipment are available. When athletes have learned the basics, they can form rowing crews with other athletes at the club and continue the sport recreationally. A recreational coordinator helps to arrange crews. This arrangement makes it possible for club members to row with athletes who have similar levels of skill. Crews who row recreationally often include athletes both with and without disabilities.

Moreover, the club also trains rowers for provincial, national, and international competitions. Coaches bring athletes together to form crews who train for regattas, series of races. Crews are often made up of athletes who have different disabilities.

The Argonaut Rowing Club creates opportunities for Torontonians of all abilities to discover the sport of rowing. Athletes who develop a love for the sport can row for fun or enter competitions at various levels. Rowers can form teams with other rowers who have disabilities or can form integrated crews that include athletes of all abilities.