Olympic sports you can do on Long Island
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The Summer Olympics may be taking place an ocean away -- but you can get your fill much closer to home. Although you may have the scoop on where to shoot some hoops or play football, here's a look at where you can see or do a few of the lesser-known Summer Olympic sports. Watch or learn how to wield a sword, play table tennis or row down a river -- without paying for airfare to London.
WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Fridays (course schedules vary), Long Island Rowing Club, Fleets Cove Beach Park, 293 Fleets Cove Rd., Huntington
INFO 631-793-7038, lirowing.org
COST From $225 for nine sessions
In this physically demanding sport, rowers must be able to use every muscle to move a 300- to 600-pound boat at top speeds. You can watch these boats glide on the water or pull on oars yourself. Jason Rich, 23, a coach at Long Island Rowing Club, says learning to row is an intense experience, especially as newcomers rock the boat, splash water and get familiar with using the oars. With time come finding your rhythm and pushing your body to the limit. "But it's the most thrilling thing you could ever do," Rich says. "You just feel the wind behind you, and it's so exhilarating that you don't realize how much pain you're in." Beginners can typically row 500 meters (called a split) in around 2 minutes and 30 seconds, while competitive rowers can row a split in 1 minute and 50 seconds and less.
INFO 631-218-1837, pingponglongisland.com
COST $5 for players
One of the last standing table tennis clubs on the Island, the Bohemia Table Tennis Club welcomes players of all skill levels and ages. "Everyone can play table tennis," says owner Eleanor Leonhardt, who hosts meets in her Bohemia basement. "This is natural."
With two pingpong tables, a green floor, high ceilings and historic pictures and trophies scattered around, players can challenge some of the Island's best players while also learning table-tennis history. Leonhardt, who says she was once Olympic-eligible, still has a wicked serve and enjoys teaching newcomers how to improve their game. For $5, you can play all night and get some free lessons on strategy and technique.
INFO 516-576-0646, islandfencingacademy.com
COST $160 for introductory package of four private lessons for adults
The tip of the fencing sword is the second-fastest moving object in the Olympics (next to bullets), meaning fencers need to be quick, agile and precise. You can watch people face off in bouts or try one of three weapons yourself here. In epee, you'll wield the heaviest and biggest sword but be allowed to get a touch (one point) on any part of your opponent's body by jabbing them. Foil fencers target the torso and use a weapon that's like a lighter version of an epee. Sabre fencing is the quickest of the three, targeting everything above the hips and using slashing rather than jabbing. Coaches will drill your bladework and footwork, which is how one moves while fencing. And if you want to fence or watch saber or foil, you'll have to learn about right of way: in the event of a double touch, the person who has the attack receives the point. This club has private lessons, group lessons and open fencing.