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PARK 101: Intro to Rowing on the Schuylkill River (three sessions)

Get in the know by learning to row! 


Wednesday, July 5, 2023


12:30pm - 2:00pm


BLJ Rowing
2200 Kelly Dr
Philadelphia, PA 19129

Always wanted to try rowing but never knew how? Join us for a special intro to rowing clinic with Brannon Johnson of BLJ Community Rowing! Brannon is a Philadelphia native who became a world-class rower after getting her start in the Fairmount Park Community Rowing Program. Through BLJ Community Rowing, Brannon and her team have taught over 1,000 people how to row in the last ten years. As the only black owned and operated rowing club in America, BLJ is passionate about providing access to the elite sport of rowing by removing boundaries and creating opportunities.

The Learn to Row program is extensive, inclusive, and effective. Beginners will learn all aspects of sculling, including a breakdown of the stroke, how to get in and out of the boat, the rules of the river, and the many technical aspects of the sport in an easy-to-understand way.

Meet at the BLJ Community Rowing “boathouse without walls” on Kelly Drive, just north of Boathouse Row, in beautiful East Fairmount Park.

This program is three sessions: July 5, July 12, and July 19 (all from 4:30-6:00 pm). Ticket price is for all three sessions.

TICKET PRICES:  Pay what you can – $60, $70, or $80
[ Not sure what to pay? Please refer to this Sliding Scale Pricing FAQ for additional info. ]


  • Please dress according to weather conditions.
  • Recommended clothing for rowing is soft, stretchy, breathable, and fairly form-fitting.
  • Please wear Spandex or tight fitting shorts (loose shorts can get caught in the slides under the moving seats). Avoid baggy shorts / sweatpants / warm-ups.
  • Bring plenty of water and a snack.
  • Bring bug spray and sunscreen.
  • There are nearby bathrooms (port-a-potties).
  • Appropriate for adults only.

There is plenty of free parking in the St. Joe’s Gillin Boathouse parking lot (upriver from Boathouse Row– near the Strawberry Mansion Bridge) . As always, NEVER leave valuables in your car!

COVID-19 PROTOCOLS:  By registering for this event you are agreeing to follow ALL of these protocols:

  • This event has limited capacity. Please only register if you fully intend to attend and let us know if you need to cancel ASAP.
  • If you or anyone in your household are exhibiting COVID-19 systems, please stay home.

INSTRUCTOR BIO: Brannon Johnson, a Philadelphia native and current resident, is the head coach and owner of BLJ Community Rowing, one of the most diverse community rowing programs in the Philadelphia metro area.  She has built an extensive resume in rowing, teaching and coaching over the past 15+ years. At the age of 15 she learned to row at the Fairmount Park Community Rowing Program.  Continuing to reign locally on the Schuylkill River, she began to develop as a single sculler under the tutelage of Kay MacDonald. She began her racing career and started to distinguish herself from other athletes which lead to training at Boston University’s elite summer program two consecutive years.  She competed in and placed in the Stotesbury Regatta as well as Philadelphia City Championships.  Brannon received a full athletic scholarship to attend the University of Texas, where she rowed at the Division 1 varsity level all 4 years.  In 2003, Brannon competed as a single sculler in the internationally known Henley Royal Regatta, one of the most prestigious regattas held on the Thames River in England. Brannon currently still rows and competes and is a fixture in the Philadelphia rowing community.

Enjoy our programs? Become a Supporter of Fairmount Park Conservancy to help ensure that Philadelphia’s parks are enhanced for generations to come! Supporters enjoy special benefits like early registration access for events and our Park Perk Pass, which offers discounts and benefits throughout Philadelphia.

This event will take place in light rain. In the event of heavy rain or other severe conditions, the event will be canceled and attendees are eligible for a full refund.