Rowing is the kind of sport that takes over your life. Dilettantes need not apply. It’s a full-body workout that demands strength, a strong core, good balance, co-ordination and endurance. Masters races are 1,000 metres long; “head” races, where boats start 10 or 20 seconds apart, may be four kilometres. Barb Prevedello instantly fell in love with it during a visit to the Hanlan Boat Club in Toronto when she was in her 40s.

You row facing backwards, so it’s Di Mara, a retired realtor, at the stern of this double scull. Prevedello, in the bow, helps run her family’s business, including Prevedello and Mathews, a wine importing company. But she admits she’s focused on rowing all summer. She has to be on the water just after dawn.

“There’s a serenity on the water at that time of day. We’re a mile off Toronto. It’s a great way to start your day,” she says.

Great conditioning helped Prevedello rebound from hip replacement surgery she scheduled between rowing seasons. “It didn’t stop me at all,” she says, “and now it’s perfect.”

This September, Prevedello, Mara and others from the Hanlan Club will compete at the FISA (International Rowing Federation) World Rowing Masters regatta at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta course in St. Catharines, Ont. Racing at the 2009 World Masters Games in Sydney, Australia, was such fun that they’re planning to enter the 2013 Masters in Torino, Italy. “I can’t wait,” says Prevedello.