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The Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

August 20, 2009 at 3:12 PM

From New England to Seattle, rowing coach Frank Cunningham shares memories

cunninghamc081809m.jpgAug. 18, 8:58 a.m. [Click on image to view larger] [Sketch location]
After my crash course in rowing with Evan Jacobs, I hung out for a while at the rowing club’s building in Fremont. Jacobs introduced me to longtime member and coach Frank Cunningham, who was doing some repair work on a 20-year-old double-seater scull.
Cunningham, now in his 80s, was an undergraduate at Harvard in 1947 when he came to Seattle to compete in the national championships. He stroke the boat that went on to win the race, earning a spot in the Rowing Hall of Fame. “There were twelve crews of eight. It was quite a spectacle,” he recalled.
Back then, he explained, rowing was the only game in town. “It was as exciting as the hydros became. The newspapers covered it. They used to give the University of Washington lots of ink,” he said.
Cunningham never thought he would move away from Lowell, Massachussets, where he grew up. But having had that experience in Seattle, he decided to move here after graduating from Harvard with a degree in American Government. “I saw what you just saw out there,” he said. “The water, the mountains, the air… it beckoned me.”
More about Cunnighman
He has coached Olympic medal winners and is the author of the book Scullers at Ease. He also taught English at Seattle schools for 30 years.

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