Monday, November 21, 2011

Rowing Legend Fred Duling to Compete for 52nd Consecutive Year in 108th Schuylkill Navy Run in Philadelphia on Thanksgiving Day


Philadelphia, PA -- November 21, 2011 -- One of the most decorated athletes in Philadelphia rowing history, the legendary Fred Duling, will compete in the 108th annual Schuylkill Navy Run this Thursday, November 24th - Thanksgiving Day -- for the 52nd consecutive year.  Unlike the previous years, however, Duling is competing in far different circumstances this Thanksgiving. 

Last December, less than two weeks after last year's Schuylkill Navy Run, Duling fell over a balcony while working at Malta Boat Club on Boathouse Row, fracturing his spine in four different places: the C1, C2, C5 and C6 vertebrae. He suffered a concussion, broken nose, broken cheek bone and had several deep lacerations on his face. According to Duling, he was working alone at the boathouse, decorating the landmark for Christmas.

While there were no witnesses, and no one knows exactly what happened or how he fell, Duling apparently landed hard on his head and face, and was not able to break his fall with his hands.  The 67-year-old Philadelphia rowing legend is now paralyzed from the abdomen down, and will be competing this year in a wheel chair, assisted by his daughter Sara.

Duling rowed on three US national teams in his youth. As recently as the summer of 2009, at age 65, he won gold medals in three events at the US Rowing Masters National Championships, and several more at the Rowing Masters World Championships. He won the US National Championship in the light single in his age group at the Masters national rowing championships in 2007. He has won many rowing national championship gold medals, including at least five in the past few years at masters’ nationals, and several medals, including gold, at the World Masters Rowing Championships. Notably, to celebrate his 60th birthday in 2004, Duling rowed 60 miles on one day.

In the aftermath of his accident last December, Duling spent more than a month in intensive care at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, then eight months at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital. He is now living at the home of his daughter, Sara, and her husband, Sandor Ferenczy, in Philadelphia's Fairmount neighborhood.

Ever since the accident, members of The Schuylkill Navy have been helping Duling and his family raise funds.  Full information about Duling is available at the special "Pull For Fred" website, http://pullforfred.com/Pull_For_Fred/Pull_for_Fred.html, as well as on the "Pull For Fred" Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Coach-Fred/163034540406713?v=wall.

The 108th Annual Schuylkill Navy Run begins at 9:15 a.m. this Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 24th, over a five and 5/8 miles course, starting at Malta Boat Club on Kelly Drive.  The race began in 1899, and except for missing two years during World War I and two years during World War II, has been a tradition for rowers in Philadelphia and the region. 

Founded in 1858, the Schuylkill Navy is the oldest amateur athletic governing body in the United States. Today the Schuylkill Navy comprises the clubs of Boathouse Row: Pennsylvania, Fairmount, Crescent, Bachelors, University, Malta, Vesper, College, Penn A.C., Undine, Philadelphia Girls', and Gillin, the newest upriver member. The clubs share the river with the Philadelphia Rowing Program for the Disabled, dragon boats, canoes, and kayaks.   The Schuylkill Navy is also the organizers of the Philadelphia Classic Regatta Series, which brings together for the first time 20 previously independent events in the first organized year-long series of rowing events of its kind in any major U.S. city.  Additional information is available at http://www.boathouserow.org.