Capital Crew History

Capital Crew is a very successful competitive junior rowing club that started in 1989 at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center. Capital Crew rowers and coxswains compete at the highest levels in competitive rowing both on our home water at Lake Natoma in Gold River, California, as well as in prestigious regattas in California and across the country. Over the past decade, Capital has captured numerous Southwest Regional Junior Championship team and individual titles, and has qualified numerous boats to compete at the USRowing Junior Rowing Championships.  Capital athletes are consistently selected to prominent college programs and have been chosen to represent the United States in rowing at the junior elite, development, and international level. One famous Capital Crew alumna is Ms. Mary Whipple, who was the coxswain on three Olympic rowing teams. She has one Olympic silver medal and two Olympic gold medals, from 2008 and 2012. Another former Capital Crew rower, Sam Dommer, represented the US in the men’s 8+ at the 2016 Olympics.

Capital Crew trains from September to mid-May and competes against thirty-two other junior rowing programs on the West Coast in Novice and Varsity divisions. Capital Crew athletes compete in sweep and sculling boats, individually or with crews of two, four, or eight rowers. The facilities are simply the best; the water is internationally renowned, and with the support of our Capital Crew Booster Club we row in the finest equipment.

Capital crew is perfect for athletes age 13 or older through senior year in high school who are interested in learning to row and competing in this Olympic sport run by the Sacramento State Aquatic Center.


Capital Crew is the oldest established junior rowing program in Sacramento. It was created through a collaborative effort between the Sacramento State Aquatic Center, the Lake Natoma Rowing Association (LNRA) and former athletes of the Sacramento State rowing club. Dave Hayashi and John Aquino (SAC ST oars), and Craig Perez (first director of the Aquatic Center) came together and figured out a way to allow high school-aged students access to Sacramento State University facility and equipment. The program was administered by the Sacramento State Aquatic Center and Capital Crew used rowing equipment owned by the Sacramento State Aquatic Center and LNRA.

Dave and John were successful in recruiting athletes from several local schools, both public and private. The first athletes came from Jesuit, St. Francis, Bella Vista and El Camino high schools. Capital Crew can boast of rowing alumni that have come as far as Stockton, Pollock Pines and Natomas. Capital truly is representative of the greater Sacramento Area.

As the team expanded, and LNRA joined into the Sacramento State Aquatic Center, the need to find more equipment and water time resulted in a shift from early morning practice to after school. With that change, even more athletes enthusiastically joined the ranks.

Capital Crew is proud to represent Sacramento’s region in our name. Wanting to have a unique name for the juniors’ rowing program (instead of Sac State Juniors), the first crew settled on the name “Capital Crew.” As pointed out by founding member Sarah Aquino, it is spelled with an “a” not an “o” meaning the city not the building.

The Associated Students of Sacramento State University operates the Aquatic Center, which is known as a “boating instruction and safety center” by the Department of Boating and Waterways. Part of this instructional mission includes coach training. Many coaches of our toughest competition have started their coaching careers as Capital coaches. Other coaches who started with Capital Crew are now coaching at the collegiate level.