90-year-old woman uses rowing to stay young

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SAN DIEGO — Some people say the phrase Thank God it’s Friday, but Annette Frank prefers Thursdays. That’s when she goes to Mission Bay and rows, a ritual she has followed for more than 60 years.

“I started in the early 50’s,” Frank said. “My mother was a member of the rowing club. Then I was invited to join in the the early 50s.”

Annette Frank Pix 6 4 13“It’s almost a spiritual experience,” she continued. “I was rowing in a single along the shore, and I looked up and there were two brown eyes looking at me. There was a sea lion following me all the way to shore.”

Frank has hundreds of stories like that from her thousands of hours spent on the water.

A former president, and current member, of the ZLAC all-women’s rowing club, Frank said she rows every week for at least 30 minutes.

Even breast cancer diagnosed in the 1980s, and losing a kidney due to cancer, couldn’t keep her out of the boat.

“It is a wonderful thing that you get hooked on, which I am,” she said.

Frank celebrated her 90th birthday April 12, and as a gift, the ZLAC rowing club put her name on one of its four-person boats.

“That was an honor,” Frank said. “It was a wonderful honor to get my name on the quad.”

“The first time I saw her and I found out how old she was, it was just amazing to know,” said fellow rower and ZLAC member Donnalee Hicks.  “The minute she got into the boat, she stroked and glided and made it so effortless. I would say, ‘I want to row just like Annette.'”

“Anyone who comes out here day after day and rows and does all this is great,” said former ZLAC president Mary Grandell.

Frank, who lives in Point Loma, has one daughter and one granddaughter. She believes that every woman, young and old, can benefit from rowing.

She’s living proof that it can help keep you going, and going, and going…

“I still have another good 10 years to go I think,” Frank said. “I plan to do that.”