BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s most associated with Ivy League colleges but Saturday, hundreds of school kids from six states hit the water for a rowing regatta.

Alex DeMetrick reports one of the youngest teams comes from middle schools in Baltimore.

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Nine middle school girls shouldered 200 pounds of racing shell at the Baltimore Rowing Club. It’s a hands-on experience very different from everyday life in school.

“I just thought it was an interesting sport, something I’ve never done before. I want to try new things,” said Anna Roberts.

It’s new to this regatta, where most rowers come from high schools. The sport is trying to get kids hooked early. It’s a challenge in the city.

“Middle school kids in Baltimore City, what do they care about? They’ve never heard of rowing, so it really is a sell job and kids stepped forward,” said executive director Judd Anderson.

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Like Annaya Paylor.

“I’m a starboard seat and I have to basically push the boat from the back like the motor,” Paylor said.

And while part of rowing requires them to carry their boats, it’s what they do with them on the water that counts. And for a group that has been pulling together as a team for less than a year, the girls from Baltimore pulled their hearts out—for the race and for the future.

“Yes, I plan to get a scholarship to college just for doing this. This is something I love to do. Why not?” Paylor said.

“That’s a smart young lady. There are a ton of NCAA scholarships available for women, especially for rowing,” said Richard Butler.

And while they didn’t win Saturday, the future is still open water.

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The rowing community and the city began reaching out to middle school students last year. They’re still looking for others who would like to grab an oar.