John Mullen used to be a runner. He didn’t particularly like running, but he wanted exercise, so he made himself do it.
One day two years ago, Mullen was running near Bachman Lake when he saw a man rowing a strangely shaped boat. The man took Mullen out for a test ride, and Mullen was hooked. Bye-bye running; hello sculling.
Although sculling (racing one-or two-person boats by rowing oarlike objects called “sculls”) hasn’t enjoyed much popularity in the Southwest, enthusiasts are getting together in several places across the region. The sport has been popular in the Northeast for years.
Sculling, or team rowing, offers tremendous exercise. With each movement of the scull, the sculler does a full leg squat, a sit-up and an arm contraction-quite an aerobic workout.
Mullen says that sculling exercises his body from head to toe and that it’s more effective than any other sport-even swimming. He says that a number of 80-year-olds living on the East Coast still enjoy sculling.
There aren’t many senior-citizen scullers in Dallas, but a sculling club for all ages is in the process of forming. At one point, the Dallas Rowing Club had almost 40 members. This month, the club hopes to attract new members and begin competing in regional competitions. The club’s members store several of their boats on private property near Bachman Lake.
Every Sunday morning, a group is at the lake practicing- and playing. Mullen says they have attracted a number of members by taking curious onlookers out for a ride and teaching them a few tricks of the sport.
The level of expertise varies greatly among club members. Some are in it just for the exercise and recreational aspects, but there are those who have been on sculling teams in college and have competed nationally.
Kate O’Brien, one of the few women in the club, was on Yale’s team while she was in college. She recently placed third in the women’s national competition in Indianapolis. Another member. SMU law student Dinnie Slo-man, also competed nationally.
Austin and Oklahoma City both have well-organized sculling teams. Mullen says that he hopes Dallas will become the next rowing center of the Southwest.