Women aim for world record

By Anne-Marie McDonald -
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Corrections officer Isla Fitch puts her back into it during her rowing shift. PHOTO/STUART MUNRO
Corrections officer Isla Fitch puts her back into it during her rowing shift. PHOTO/STUART MUNRO

Nineteen women from Whanganui Prison are aiming for a world record - the first all-female team to row one million metres.

The women are all employed at Whanganui Prison as corrections officers, medical staff or sentence managers, or are partners of corrections officers.

Participant and team spokeswoman, Jodi Rasmusen, said a group of men from Whanganui Prison had last year cracked one million metres, inspiring their female colleagues to attempt the same.

"We thought, why not have an all-women team? It's never been done before," Ms Rasmusen said.

The team is currently rowing in half-hour shifts on the indoor rowing machines at Marist Rugby clubrooms in Hatrick St, with the support of family, friends and colleagues. Some of the male rowers from the prison are rowing alongside the women in support.

Ms Rasmusen said when the team began training last year, many had never touched a rowing machine before.

"I've never rowed before - and honestly, if I can do it, anyone can. It's great for fitness and really great for team building. It's hard work but we're having a lot of fun."

Each day has a different theme. Tuesday's theme was Hawaiian, so the participants were rowing in brightly patterned shirts and lei.

The team's youngest rower is 28; the oldest is 64.

The team began at midnight on Sunday and Ms Rasmusen said while they were expecting to finish on Friday, they are well ahead of schedule and should finish on Thursday.

Ms Rasmusen said anyone was welcome to stop in for a coffee and to support the women.

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