Milton Keynes Rowing Club ‘overwhelmed’ by level of interest since Olympic Games

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THE London 2012 legacy is certainly being felt in Milton Keynes – but the trouble is, the city’s rowing club is struggling to cope with the level of demand.

Since Team GB’s rowing team won the first of nine Olympic medals at Eton Dorney, Milton Keynes Rowing Club – based at Caldecotte Lake – has been inundated with potential new members, leading to an unprecedented number of hits on the club website and emails enquiring about how to get involved in the sport.

Almost 230,000 people watched rowing, canoeing and kayaking events at Eton Dorney during the Olympics, and around the time that the country’s elite rowers were picking up a fantastic four gold medals, Milton Keynes Rowing Club saw an 800 per cent increase in hits to www.mkrowing.org

But the club is simply unable to cope with the level of demand for its Learn to Row course, which can only cater for around 20 people at a time, but currently has more than 200 waiting to take it. In 2011, just 31 people took the course.

Two course are booked in for September and October, and just to try and accommodate all those interested, the club is putting on extra ‘taster sessions’ to try and avoid disappointment. Although with new enquiries every day, the club is simply unable to respond to everyone, and 70 other people have so far not been offered anything

“We cannot cope with more than 20 on a full Learn to Row course due to a lack of suitable boats and time on the lake,” said club secretary Louise Rivett.

“If we had more recreational boats and time we could expand the numbers. We’re seeing people from the age of 18 to 60 get in touch and we would love to be able to cater for everyone but it’s impossible at the moment.

“We’ve been doing lots of promotions over the last couple of years and that has seen a good increase in our numbers, but we have just been overwhelmed by the last couple of weeks. We’re almost a victim of our own success!”

Not only is it a busy time in terms of trying to accommodate potential new members, but the club is also making plans for its own regatta at Caldecotte Lake on Saturday, September 1.

In its third year, the Milton Keynes regatta – like the club – is getting bigger and better, and spectators will be able to watch almost a full day of racing starting from 10am.