A happy coincidence

When we founded BluAngel some four years ago, we never knew that Mihailo’s parents always wanted to row. But finding this out in the course of CrewBlu’s new venture made it very special.
Blu Angel provides rowing instruction to mixed ability rowers through its CrewBlu Rowing Programmes which has successfully instructed and supported new mixed ability rowers in Galway Rowing Club and Tribesmen Rowing Club. Now, we have developed a new rowing project in collaboration with Colaiste Iognaid’s Bob McGoran Centre for students with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Transition Year Students (TY) & Colaiste Iognaid (Jes) Rowing Club

Students mentoring students

In this new venture, BluAngel and the CrewBlu rowing programme in collaboration with the Jes Rowing Club and Bob McGoran Centre in Colaiste Iognaid, have piloted a learn-to-row and fitness project for students with autism (ASD)  in the Jes school in Galway, Ireland. While teaching students on the autistic spectrum to row as part of an overall fitness programme was one of the primary goals of the programme, a second strand to this project was involving  young Transition Year (TY) rowers from the Jes who were interested in mentoring/coaching.  The TY students were provided with mixed ability induction sessions from BluAngel Coaches who were available to provide support for the classroom element of the programme along with supervision from the teachers in the Bob McGoran Centre.  

The Bob McGoran students were offered weekly rowing training using indoor rowing machines (ergometer placed in their homes) via an online training programme run by BluAngel. Concurrently, in the classroom, the Bob McGoran students were supported by TY students using the classroom ergometer which BluAngel placed in the unit.  After some months of ergometer training, the plan was to transfer and develop the skills learnt on the ergometer to on-the-water training.  The transition and water based training similar to the classroom-based training is supported by the CrewBlu Rowing Programme with assistance from Jes TY students. 

Mihailo’s big debut on the river Corrib

Mihailo’s parents, having had the dream to row, watched proudly from the slip, as he was the first student from the Bob McGoran Centre to take to the water. After some initial slip side instruction, a very successful trip up the river ensued. This was Mihailo’s first time in a rowing boat. Supported by two TY rowing students who had worked with him in the classroom over the previous 6 months, Mihailo took his first rowing strokes, including a little feathering and squaring.

What’s next

The CrewBlu@Jes Rowing Programme is set to continue over the summer months, aiming to develop confidence and rowing skills which can continue to be worked on using the ergometer during the winter season.
Overall the outcomes from this Pilot Rowing Programme have been very positive. The programme has been deemed a success and welcomed by Colaiste Iognaid students and teachers. Everyone involved in the implantation of the pilot phase are keen to continue to continue to run and develop the programme, keeping it as part of the Bob McGoran ASD and TY’s social outreach activity.

Thank you, allies

BluAngel would like to give special thanks to:

  • Tribesmen Rowing Club: This project would not have been possible without the kind support of Tribesmen Rowing Club, who have generously facilitated the usage of their rowing equipment (training & safety was provided by CrewBlu coaches in Tribesmen’s boats and launch.)
  • Rowing Ireland (Get Going, Get Rowing Programme): Additional para equipment used were stabilising floats for the rowing session and the classroom based ergometer, all kindly provided by Rowing Ireland.
  • Bob McGoran Centre Teachers: A big shout out to Ruth O’Brien for supporting the project and to all the teachers in the Bob McGoran Centre. Without their organisation of student timetables, their provision of encouragement to the students and facilitation of the programme, it could not have taken place.
  • Jes Rowing Club/TY Students: Thanks to Noel Hume (Captain) and the Jes Rowing Club for facilitating, supporting and welcoming the programme into the Club and thanks to the TY rowers for their consistent and enthusiastic support and mentoring. This programme could not have run as successfully without them and would have been at a loss of the wonderful energy and fun they brought to the classroom training.

And Here’s to the New Rowers!

Congratulations to all the students in the Bob McGoran centre who have taken their first steps in developing their rowing skills using the ergometer over the past couple of months. There will be some promising new rowers on the river next year.
A particularly big shout out and congratulations to Mihailo, who took his very first and very successful rowing trip up the river Corrib. CrewBlu is confident that Mihailo will go from strength to strength. Congratulations also to his parents, who were hugely supportive and encouraging of his home rowing programme. BluAngel hopes they will too make their dream of rowing come true in the not too distant future.


Walk, sail or row – dream free


  • What: new CrewBlu learn-to-row and fitness project
  • Where: Colaiste Iognaid’s Bob McGoran Centre for special needs & river Corrib (Galway, Ireland)
  • Who for: students on the autistic spectrum & young Transition Year rowers interested in mentoring/coaching
  • How: online training programme & indoor rowing in the classroom
  • Goal: To transfer the skills learnt on the ergometer to on-the-water training
  • Success: May 2022, the first ASD student, took to the water for the first time.