Oldest women’s rowing club in U. S. celebrating 125 years

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By Anders Iverson

Kim Martins, a Fletcher Hills resident, moved here nearly two decades ago in search of a family home. Martins says she chose the area because of its sense of community. After finishing her career and raising her children, Martins found ZLAC Rowing Club. ZLAC is the oldest women’s rowing club in the United States, and it is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

By Anders Iverson

Kim Martins, a Fletcher Hills resident, moved here nearly two decades ago in search of a family home. Martins says she chose the area because of its sense of community. After finishing her career and raising her children, Martins found ZLAC Rowing Club. ZLAC is the oldest women’s rowing club in the United States, and it is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

Currently, the Women’s Museum of California is holding a special exhibit called “Women On The Water” which celebrates the history of women on the water in San Diego including artifacts from the ZLAC Foundation and the San Diego Yacht Club.

East County’s state Senator Joel Anderson provided members of ZLAC who contributed to making the exhibit possible with certificates of recognition for its dedication to promoting social and athletic activism and empowering women in the community. Anderson shared, “It is wonderful to learn that San Diego is home to the nation’s oldest women’s rowing club. I am happy community members like Kim are representing East County in this historical group of extraordinary women.”

Martins first got hooked on sailing in her twenties. She was sailing with friends in the West Indies and spent time in Marigot Bay, St. Lucia. Martins fondly remembered, “I spent a day in a sculling boat having to be retrieved from venturing out the bay and down the coast. From that day on I was hooked.” 30 years later, in January of 2016, she signed up for the “Learn to Row” rowing camps at ZLAC. She has been an active rower since then and rowed at last fall’s Row for the Cure which was a charity event that involved rowing teams, kayakers, paddle boarders and many other water sports that competed in their respective categories. Martins’ rowing team rowed over 4 kilometers around Mission Bay. While Martins said it was a physical challenge, the rewards were worth it.

Special moments don’t just come from racing, however. Martins recounts one morning when she abruptly stopped rowing during practice and started pointing at something. Her coach, confused, asked what was going on. Martins yelled, “Dolphins! 3 of them!” The next voice was the coach commanding everyone to turn their boats because dolphins were the priority.

For more information about ZLAC Rowing Club, visit its website on zlac.org.

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