ROW (Recovery on Water)

This is the first sports team that some women on it had ever joined, and it’s exclusive—you have to have or have had breast cancer or undergone a prophylactic mastectomy because of a genetic disposition to contracting breast cancer. Other than that, you can be the worst jock in the world (like me) and still learn how to row, or scull, as it’s officially called. ROW rows in the nasty Bubbly Creek portion of the Chicago River, sighting ducks, herons, the ubiquitous Canada geese, and several million (it seems) used minipads and condoms—not to mention fishermen who, incredibly, plan to eat what they catch. These scullers are tough, so none of that proves bothersome. In the cold months the team practices indoors three times a week, and when it’s warm(er), outside weekly. And the ROWers get stronger and more adept. —S.L. Wisenberg