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Jackson-Reed Crew Middle School Learn-to-Row (LTR)

Learn-to-Row is an amazing opportunity for eighth graders to get a taste of the sport of crew - or rowing! The program is designed for kids with no previous exposure to the sport - though if you attended a summer camp, you’ll be in the right place too! Our program  are all about fostering the fun experience of working together as a group and learning the ropes of rowing. Join us to find out if this might be the sport for you - and have a new adventure regardless!

The LTR program covers the rowing stroke technique: first on the rowing machine (“erg” or ergometer may become a common word at home) and then on the water. Rowers will learn the rules and etiquette of the boathouse as well as do cross training to build fitness and how to prevent injuries.

Rowing features two key “positions” - rowers who use their oars to move the boat - and coxswains - typically smaller people who sit and steer while coaching and giving tips. This set-up means we have space on the team for people of all shapes and sizes! We are excited to be back for another year of Middle School rowing and hope you’ll join us!

The program is open to all eighth graders in the Jackson-Reed High School feeder schools. Once progressing to the high school team,  rowers must attend Jackson-Reed High School to be eligible for our program.

A swim test is required and provided by the Jackson-Reed Crew Boosters prior to the start of the program.

Schedule for Spring 2024

All sessions are now FULL

Wednesdays 5PM - 7 PM at Jackson-Reed High School


Saturdays  9:00am to 10:30am  or 10:30am to 12pm (FULL)  @ Thompson Boat Center (Georgetown waterfront) 


Sundays  9:00am to 10:30am  or 10:30am to 12pm (FULL)  @ Thompson Boat Center (Georgetown waterfront) 

For more information contact:

Jackson-Reed Crew has a long history of welcoming interested 8th grade students from middle schools in Washington, DC, to learn about the sport of rowing through a robust program that includes learning to row on the Potomac, engaging in winter conditioning and erg competitions, and building teamwork and fitness. 

The program is for DCPS students in the Jackson-Reed HS feeder pattern (Oyster, Deal, Hardy) or other 8th graders intending to enroll at Jackson-Reed in the next academic year.

The Swim Test

All athletes new to Jackson-Reed Crew must take a swim test but prior swimming experience is not required.  If you do not pass the swim test at first, you can still participate in Jackson-Reed Crew - the program will arrange swim instruction.  You will wear an approved PFD at all times when you are on the water.  Once you feel your swimming abilities and/or fitness have improved enough, inform your coach and he/she will setup another swim test.

Swim test exceptions are allowed for athletes who previously passed a swim test for the 8th grade Learn-to-Row program and athletes who would rather wear an approved personal flotation device (PFD) while on the water. 

For the swim test, athletes should wear non-cotton athletic clothing (not a swimsuit).

● Part 1: Swim 100 yards with any stroke or combination of strokes without stopping or hanging on the ends or lane lines.  Speed and form do not matter.

● Part 2: Tread water for 5 minutes


Swim instruction resources:

DC Parks and Recreation - Learn to Swim Programs

National Capital Swim School

Charlotte Taft

Learn-To-Row Coach

Charlotte has been rowing or coaching since 1997. She began rowing at Phillips Exeter and after a summer with the USRowing junior development squad, continued at Yale University, where she was a four-time NCAA Championship invitee, Women’s Sprints gold medalist, Head of the Charles winner, and Academic All-American.
Charlotte is thrilled to be coaching her fifth class of Jackson Reed middle schoolers. Her coaching career started in 2002 when she ran the Ann Arbor Rowing Club summer youth competitive program. Over the years, she also coached youth and masters Learn-to-Row and masters sweep at Ann Arbor. While in college, Charlotte coached for two summers for Yale Community Rowing and ran a learn-to-row program for teen mothers in New Haven. She also served as assistant coach to the Ann Arbor Huron High School Girls Varsity. While she was at Huron, the girls fours and eights were consistent Midwest Junior Rowing Championships grand finalists and SRAA invitees, including bronze medal place in the Varsity and JV 4+.
Off the water, Charlotte is a Data Discovery and Visual Analytics Consultant with Slalom. She enjoys mystery novels, board games, and her brother's dogs (@alfalfa_n_maple).

Jessica Neill

Learn-to-Row assistant Coach

Jessica began her rowing career as a coxswain in 2014 at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where she served as captain for her last 2 years before graduating. She has since coxed for various teams in Tennessee and the DC area for the past 10 years. Her coaching career started with the Jackson-Reed Learn-to-Row middle schoolers in 2021, and she is enthusiastic to be coaching a third class this fall. After earning her Master's in Peace and Conflict Resolution from George Mason University in 2020, she now works as an ADR Specialist in Annapolis. Jessica also serves as an officer in the United States Coast Guard Reserves. When she's not coaching, she can be found golfing, running, or exploring new restaurants in the area.