Sarasota and Manatee counties continue to market themselves as a top rowing destination, and a visiting team is backing up that claim.

Harvard University, one of the top rowing teams in the country, calls Manatee County home once a year to train for the upcoming season.

The team is spending nine days at Ft. Hamer Park in Parrish for their training.

“It’s been a terrific training facility; we really love it,” coach Harry Parker said.

Women, lightweight and heavyweight men and their coaches are spending part of January training for the third straight year.

“The people down here are just wonderful," rower Justin Mundt said. "We've felt so welcome here, we've always been really excited to come down here.”

Harvard chose this area because of the great weather in late January, but also because of the calm waters that are easy to train in.

“You can really kind of get out there and get in a rhythm, which is important when you’re trying to log some decent miles on a training trip like this,” rower Alex MacIntosh said.

As the Sarasota and Manatee County areas continue to market themselves as a rowing destination, the people at Ft. Hamer Park at least know they’re contributing to the success of one of the most historic and best crew programs in the world.

A number of schools have already spent time in the area training, and there are other trips scheduled through the end of March.

There are several competitions scheduled at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota for later in the year.