“Swing it,” “Let it Run,” “Check it down” and “Hold Water” might be unfamiliar terms to the everyday El Dorado County sports observer but for rowing enthusiast Sue Hamby, they’re coxswain marching orders from the boat’s navigator.
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When her youngest, Russell, graduated from El Dorado High, Hamby watched a friend’s daughter row several times for Williamette University and once talked her own daughter into taking a Scully class (own boat, two oars).
Hamby, the elder, fell hook, line and sinker.
In search of something challenging after a 30-year softball career, she dove in head-first — starboard side — to the sport. Now, 10 years in, Hamby’s a gold medal winner from the World Master Games, an Olympic-style competition held recently in Torino, Italy at the same venue used for the 2006 Olympics.
Hamby works out five-six days a week from weight-lifting at SNAPS to an indoor rowing machine to actual on-water workouts on Lake Natomas and at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center.
“It’s a great sport to be old in,” said Hamby who’ll turn 60 on her next birthday. “I hope to do it until I can’t physically do it (anymore). It’s the best work-out and I’ve met wonderful people over the years.”
Over the years has taken Hamby all over the place: Victoria, British Columbia for the Canadian Nationals; the World Masters in Ontario, Canada; Masters Nationals in Worchester, Massachusetts, Green Lake, Washington and Camden, New Jersey.
She’s also competed in 2011 in the Head of the Charles Regatta on the Charles River in Massachusetts and will do so again later this month. In addition to the gold Hamby won in Torino, she also took home a bronze. Overall, she competed in five races.
Hamby trains with a Master’s Coach Program under Mayrene Earle. Hamby was one of 16 women selected for Torino and collectively, the group brought back 12 medals.
“It’s a remarkable group of women and keeps me going when we’re together,” Hamby said. “Everyone is working together, swinging together and the boat flies.”
Hamby was involved in five races in Torino: pairs, straight E4- (age group 55-59, one oar, no coxswain), Coxswain E4+ (age group 55-59, one oar) , E8+ (age group 55-59, one oar, coxswain) and F4+ (age group 60-64, one oar, coxswain). Her gold was in the E8+ and bronze in the F4+.
“The weather was an issue but it was a great experience. A lot of wonderful people row and it’s a lot of fun,” Hamby said.
In 2009 at the Canadian Nationals, Hamby’s USA team won five gold medals. She participated in three races and won two of them. Career-wise, Hamby has won medals as a rower and a coxswain.