Rowing in OKC
The sport of rowing has quickly captured the hearts of the people in Oklahoma City, and we’re embracing the sport like no other. It all began with the rejuvenation of the Oklahoma River – a once dry riverbed that has been transformed into seven miles of gleaming river running through the heart of downtown OKC.
Development of boathouses and the sport of rowing began almost immediately upon completion of the river with the opening of the Chesapeake Boathouse in January, 2006. The city’s small rowing community (previously located at Lake Overholser) moved downtown, and the river quickly became a center of community activity. Race events began to happen in quick succession including the annual OCU Head of the Oklahoma, the USA Rowing World Challenge, the American Collegiate Rowing Association National Championship, and the USRowing Masters National Championships, among others. The Oklahoma River’s 2.5 miles of sheltered head racing, and the 2000m of straight racing have proven to be an attraction not only for racing, but for training. And innovations such as the OGE NightSprints are proving to be popular with athletes and spectators alike.
OKC National High Performance Center
Today, the Oklahoma River has been named a U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Site and is the home of the OKC National High Performance Center for both rowing and canoe/kayak. Working closely with national governing bodies USRowing and USA Canoe/Kayak, the OKC National High Performance Center is now home to more than 40 resident athletes training with their eyes on the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“Boathouse District” Construction
Development of the Oklahoma River in the area now known as the Boathouse District includes construction of three new boathouse – the Devon Boathouse, which opened in 2010, and the University of Oklahoma and University of Central Oklahoma boathouses, in addition to The Chesapeake Finish Line Tower, which as christened on September 14, 2011. This 70 ft. structure meets both ICF and FISA standards, further enhancing the potential of the river to host international rowing and canoe/kayak events.
MAPS 3 “River Stadium,” Whitewater
The most recent additions to the Oklahoma River now slated for construction – $60 million in new river facilities to be built as part of MAPS 3, a one-cent sales tax recently approved by the citizens of Oklahoma City. The new MAPS Oklahoma River projects will include construction of wind screens, the addition of permanent lighting for night racing, the addition of permanent grandstands, a floating stage, and additional race infrastructure…all adding up to a “river stadium” at the Oklahoma River. Also slated for construction – a $35 million whitewater kayaking and rafting center. MAPS projects are scheduled for completion within seven years, with many expected to be completed before then.
OKC RIVERSPORT – Get on the water!
Ready to get involved? If you live in the OKC metro, now’s the time to get involved at the Oklahoma River! OKC RIVERSPORT is your passport to all the exciting activities on the Oklahoma River and at Lake Overholser – rowing, kayaking, running, cycling, fitness and more. We offer lessons, coached programs, corporate rowing and dragon boating, youth outreach opportunities, hourly bike & kayak rentals….even free programs for people of all ages! Visit our community web site at riversportokc.org to learn more!