GREENE COUNTY — At least two years of hard work and determination has earned a father and a son a state rowing title.
It was two years ago when Dylan Chard, the now-20-year-old son of 1971 Beavercreek High graduate Mike Chard, approached his dad about competing with him in the U.S. Canoe Association-sanctioned Ohio Canoe & Kayak Championships.
“I told him he would have to earn it,” Mike Chard, 64, said in a phone interview on Thursday, Aug. 10. “I put him through a workout regimen consisting of weight training, cardio exercises, and boat time at least two times a week during the season. He would row 6,000-11,000 strokes at a time in a Recreational-level cadence, and he developed his skills to do this race with me.”
Dylan has Down Syndrome, but that never stopped his drive to earn a state crown with his dad.
According to the Miami Valley Down Syndrome Association, “Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring genetic condition. Individuals with Down syndrome have an extra copy of the 21st chromosome present in all, or some, of their cells. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and leads to the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm.”
The hard work paid off on July 29, during the state championships on a windy day in Fairport Harbor on the Lower Grand River. Dylan and his very proud dad won the 5.2-mile Men’s K-2 Recreation title with a time of 1 hour, 33 minutes and 58 seconds.
It is believed that Dylan became the first Down Syndrome rower to claim an Ohio rowing title in an open able-bodied racing class. Race director Joe Krizman, in Madison, could not be reached as of presstime.
“There were strong wind warnings out that day, and half the race had us paddling upstream into the wind. Several boats capsized in the conditions. We really had to work hard to do this,” Mike Chard said. “I’ve won other rowing titles in my career, but winning it with my son? This is the most special win of them all.”
Chard estimated that, with the rough waters and the windy conditions, he and Dylan rowed approximately 11,500 strokes, or roughly two strokes every second during the near 1-hour, 34-minute competition.
“I’m so incredibly proud of Dylan. He worked hard to earn this, and we won it!” Chard said.
The Chards were sponsored by Great Miami Outfitters of Miamisburg, and the SweetWater Brewing Company, an Atlanta-based company which donated part of its sales toward cleaning up parts of Lake Erie.