The Detroit Women's Rowing Association (DWRA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit rowing organization dedicated to promoting the sport of rowing in a responsible and supportive environment. DWRA nurtures healthy values of respect, competition and self-assurance. Our new, more inclusive name reflects these values
DWRA is open to female and male athletes (ages 10+) with an emphasis on youth development, community engagement, and the pursuit of personal excellence through rowing.
DWRA programs range from intense competitive rowing to rowing for pleasure and fitness. The club offers a variety of adult and youth programs including camps, retreats, private and semi-private lessons, as well as many purely social events.
The DWRA aims to teach the fundamentals of rowing and develop athletic skills, while reinforcing the value of teamwork, leadership and discipline through healthy competition.
With its location at the historic Lawrence Fisher estate, the DWRA has access not only to the Detroit River but also to a series of three protected, scenic canals that provide a great venue for new rowers.
Boat clubs sprouted in America in the 1800s, but women were excluded from these clubs even though they rowed in amateur and collegiate races. In the early 1960s, the National Women's Rowing Association was formed. In 1982, the National Association for Amateur Oarsmen and the National Women's Rowing Association joined to become the coed United States Rowing Association.
While progress for women rowers was being made at the national level, there were few opportunities in the Detroit area until the DWRA was established in the winter of 2001 by a group of eight dedicated and energetic group women and their coach. The group felt strongly that the community needed a women's club with a highly competitive atmosphere that encouraged women of all ages to come together in the name of sport.
By the spring of 2002, they had secured a little used school building on the grounds of Detroit's historic Lawrence Fisher Mansion for a boathouse. Successful fundraising enabled the purchase of four racing shells. Before dawn on an early spring morning, they ventured out onto the Detroit River for the very first time as a crew.
*In 2007 DWRA expanded its programs and membership to include male athletes.
We’ve matured and evolved over the years and came to agree that our success as an organization did not rely on gender definition but strength of character.
In January of 2018 DWRA’s full name was legally changed to the more inclusive Detroit Waterfront Rowing Association.