RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- On any given day, almost all year around, they're out there on the Passaic River, launching from Rutherford's Nereid Boat Club, rowing in groups, pairs or even solo.
Some are part of Rutherford's team rowing under the Nereid Club banner and come from as far away as Ramsey, Glen Ridge and Tenafly to be part of a team. Montclair rents space at the club for their high school team.
Head coach Dylan Gould estimates there are probably about 10 Rutherford students on the team as well.
"It's not a team that represents Rutherford, but we're getting more and more kids from town," said Gould, who has been head coach at Nereid for a little over year.
Gould is joined by coaches Lissette Gomez originally of Cuba, Montclair school teacher Sarah Kornblum, Ridgewood High School graduate Kat Francis and Allison Zolnowsky, who rowed at Montclair High School and the University of Rhode Island.
Rutherford residents can become members at half price. There are middle and high school rowing programs and lessons; being part of a team is optional.
"It’s a year-round sport, so to be competitive, you have to do it year-round," Gould said. "Spring is the most popular time of year, we had about 60. But it's growing. We have about 45 this fall."
North Arlington, Lyndhurst and Belleville have separate high school teams using public access ramps.
Gould said it's usually a strong grassroots effort among the parents and students to get a school team going.
"It’s an expensive sport to start up, and there has to be a lot of interest from the parents and student body," he said. "But kids who don’t have high school teams in the NJ-metro area have the opportunity to compete as part of our club team."
But it's not all about kids and teams. The 100 or so members of Nereid are rowing and/or exercise enthusiasts who choose the Passaic River as their gym.
"Some people come down in the mornings, get an early morning row in. Some are training for a regatta and staying competitive," he said. "And for some it’s the social aspect."
Gould said there are varying ages and fitness levels and it's an overall great exercise.
"Most people, they think it’s an upper body workout. But it’s a lower body and core workout," he said.
Basically, anyone can do it, as long as they are healthy and can swim. People row who can't swim, but it's not something he's recommends.
Gould also said they also can't accommodate anyone with disabilities at this time, "but it's never come up either."
The Passaic River is not particularly wide, making it a good body of water to row on even when it’s very windy.
"It's a good size, length-wise and there's never boat traffic, which is great. There does tend to be debris — tree branches, trash, and that can be frustrating," he said. "But it’s a very rowable river. It’s a good place to row. You can go very far north and very far south.
"People have this idea that it's very dirty, but that's really not the case," Gould said.
Anyone who wants to give the sport a test run should take a lesson, Gould said, and he's happy to answer any questions. Just shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members can come and go as they please, and have access to a locker room and showers, as well as boats and equipment on site.
Nereid is a not-for-profit organization with 501c3 status. The club is a volunteer-based organization that is governed with by-laws and managed by a Board of Directors and a Captain.
The club is a member of the United States Rowing Association and the Passaic River Coalition and co-hosts the annual Head of the Passaic Regatta each fall.
It was originally founded in 1868 and re-established in Rutherford in 1994.
A capital campaign to raise $150,000 is ongoing in order to expand the facilities. More information can be found here.