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Tracing Tracy Territory

A rowing club for Tracy?

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Rowing club

Tracy resident John Giehl holds a photograph showing him as the coxswain on the eight-man crew of Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

John Giehl has been involved in rowing since he was a student at Seton Hall University in New Jersey in the 1960s.

Now the Tracyite believes Tracy, with its proximity to Delta waterways, could be ripe for having a rowing club of its own.

“Rowing can be a recreation and competitive sport, and it’s also popular with people who want to row and scull as a form of regular exercise,” he said.

He said cities in Northern California have rowing clubs, including Sacramento, Petaluma, Los Gatos and Stockton. A club here could draw participants from Tracy and surrounding communities.

“I’d like to see if there is any interest for a rowing club centered in Tracy,” Giehl said. “Some people have rowed and sculled (different ways of paddling) before and others may want to try a new physical activity.”

Giehl, a retired school psychologist with the Tracy Unified School District. started rowing while attending Seton Hall, a Catholic university in New Jersey. Because of his small frame, he started as a coxswain and then moved to competitive rowing in the lightweight division.

“I really liked rowing for a sport and then over the years as a way of exercising and promoting relaxation from the aesthetics of being on the water,” he explained.

When he moved to Stockton, he continued his rowing activity and served five years as president of the Stockton Rowing Club, located at Ladd’s Marina on the Stockton Deep-water Channel. The club was originally affiliated with the University of the Pacific.

A local rowing club would need a clubhouse where rowing shells could be stored securely. A two-mile stretch of mostly straight waterway is needed if larger shells, such as eight-man or eight-woman sizes, are employed. (Grant Line Canal and Clifton Court Forebay come quickly to mind as possibilities.)

“There are opportunities from single-person up to eight-persons, for both men and women,” Giehl noted. “Participants find out what suits them the best.”

Erin Cafaro, a young woman who started rowing with the Stockton Rowing Club, went on to be a competitive rower at the University of California, Berkeley and was an Olympic competitor, Giehl pointed out.

Tracyites interested in finding more about the possibility of a rowing club here can email Giehl at and he will respond with answers to questions and provide additional information.

John’s idea of a Tracy rowing club is at the very least intriguing, although it would take a lot of participation and support to make it a reality. If there is interest not only from Tracy but surrounding towns, and even the East Bay, it could have a chance of succeeding.

Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at

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