Learn to row

Putney Town is well known for its successful learn to row courses. We have introduced hundreds of people to our wonderful sport of rowing with many rowers becoming key members of our top racing crews and even rowing for the Great Britain rowing team; two of those who represented Team GB in Rio started their rowing at Putney Town!

Thank you so much for your interest in our Learn to Row course!

Our website is currently under an exciting new redesign so information is not totally up to date. I’m pleased to confirm the below dates for our upcoming course.

Course dates: 21st September until the 2nd November (with a one week break)

Please sign up to our mailing list for all upcoming information on the course and for details on our Open Days which will be held in September. We look forward to meeting you both soon!


In the meantime, please read all the key information.

I am pretty competitive, is rowing for me?

Yes. Rowing is a very competitive sport, and we look to compete and be as successful as much as possible. Our courses have a strong success record of graduates progressing through our development squads and into our top crews. Most years up to half of the top crew previously completed a learn to row course at Putney Town. This takes hard work, but if you are competitive, enjoy training and working hard – rowing is extremely rewarding.

Do I need to be fit?

It certainly helps, but you will get fit as part of the course. The main obstacle to being a good novice rower is technique rather than fitness, but sooner or later fitness and strength become useful attributes!

Do I have to be able to swim?

Yes: in order to be able to become a club member you have to sign to say that you can swim 100m in light clothing. Don’t panic however, it is VERY rare for larger boats to ever capsize, and has never happened on our Learn 2 Row courses in the past.

What do I need to wear?

For our Learn 2 Row course you don’t need any specialist kit. You will need clothing that you can exercise in, and that you don’t mind getting wet is key. On colder days a few layers are useful. Typically, clothes that are not too baggy are better in the boat. Wellies are recommended for getting in/out of the boat. For land based activities, normal gym wear and trainers is fine.

Where is the course based?

The water sessions (and open days) take place at the boathouse. Although Putney Town was founded in Putney (in the Dukes Head Pub), we are now based in Mortlake. The midweek sessions in the tank take place at another boathouse near Barnes Bridge. All other land-based activities take place in our gym at the boathouse.

Our members come from all over London, although most members live in West London

When do the sessions take place?

The course is 6 weeks long. Each week has a mid-week “rowing-tank” based session (for one hour at either 7pm, 8pm or 9pm) and two sessions on the water on a weekend afternoon (usually around noon – 5pm). Between the two sessions we have some refreshment and perhaps take a look at some video.

Does it matter if I can’t make every session?

Making every session is not essential but highly desirable. Missing water sessions will slow down your progress and the early learning curve is steep. Ultimately, rowing is one of the ultimate team sports and we need to get the right number of people in the boats. Preference on the course will be given to those who can make all sessions.

Will I fit in?

If you want to learn a new sport, then yes you will fit in. Our courses attract people from a range of backgrounds, ages and outlooks on life. Putney Town is famed for its friendliness, and many people make life-long friends at the club.

What happens at the end of the course?

We hope that over the six weeks of the course you get a taste of rowing and how rewarding it can be and are hungry to keep improving. Anyone who completes our courses can become full members of the club and join our development squads where we continue to provide structured coaching to enable you to develop as a rower and athlete. It is not unusual for development squads to race within six months of the learn to row course.

If however, you decide that rowing is not for you, you may simply end your membership with Putney Town.

I have rowed before, is the course the best way back to rowing?

If you are wanting to return to rowing after a break or have completed a learn to row course / 3 months rowing somewhere else, then you may well fit in well with our development squads, which have completed our last course. If you are interested in doing this, then please contact either the men’s or women’s captain with a brief description of yourself and your previous rowing experience (when/how long).

How much does the course cost?

The course costs approximately £120. This includes all sessions, and use of our gym facilities. The exact cost will be confirmed at the open days.

Can juniors take part?

Unfortunately we cannot take juniors onto our learn to row courses at present.