Rower Connection: Ryan McMahon

How did you find the sport of rowing? Or did it find you?

Ryan’s first race at the 2012 USRowing Masters Nationals in Worcester, MA. © SportGraphics

I grew up around small boats and boating and had always been interested in sliding seat rowing. I taught rowing merit badge at Boy Scout camp, but we rowed giant aluminum row boats and no sliding seat. I had never had an opportunity to try it until I went to check out an FVRA practice at Rainbow Reservoir in 2011 and the men’s rowing team dropped me in 5 seat of an 8 for a racing practice! I had a few blisters after that row and eventually got some spandex shorts.

What do you enjoy most about the sport? What do you enjoy most about FVRA? What keeps you coming back for more?

I enjoy the balance of power and grace that are a part of rowing, especially sculling. Just hammering on an oar as hard as you can does not help you go fast, at least for long distances. I can always get better at sculling, there is always something new to learn or skill to get better at. 

Do you have any rowing-related goals for the 2024 season? What are they?

This season I’d like to train a little more off water and get myself stronger. I want to race in our quad again this season, in sprint races and head races. 

Ryan racing at the Mystic Coast Weeks Regatta in 2018 © John Thornell

Are you facing any challenges in the sport, and how are you overcoming them?

I feel like I lost a lot of momentum to train and race after 2020. Training on land for endurance and strength I’m hoping will help get me back into competitive shape. I am hoping that another sprint race or two will be offered in the summer- the loss of Derby Sweeps and Sculls is huge for rowers in our area, I am hoping other clubs offer other races in its place. Busy race days where I am able to race several times in one day are what I enjoy in summer sprint races. One year, I was able to do six races in a day at Derby, but not many races offer that opportunity in our area now (if I wanted to repeat it!)



Do you have any advice for someone who wants to start rowing?

Come take a sculling lesson! Get one to one attention on Rainbow Reservoir, the best water around! It’s worth every penny. Where else can you get skilled coaching as an adult in a very specialized sport? 

If you are male and are thinking about rowing- WE NEED MEN’S TEAM ROWERS! Come join us and we will teach you!


Fun Fact: Ryan won a gold medal in the Men’s Lightweight B 2x event at 2019 Masters Nations in Grand Rapids, MI

Check out the race here,