10 Things to Know About Rowing
are probably the world's best athletes. The sport demands endurance,
strength and an ability to tolerate the pain that their muscles experience
in the last 500 meters of the race.
2. It's the legs.
Rowing only looks like an upper body sport. Although upper body strength
is important, the drive which moves the boat comes from the strong legs.
Rowing is one of the few athletic activities that involves all of the
body's major muscle groups.
3. Meters not miles.
The standard length of a rowing race is 2000 meters -- about a mile and
a quarter. Rowers refer to the parts of the race in 500 meter sections.
(like a broom) and sculling (with a "c").
There are two basic types of rowing: sweep rowing, where the athlete
holds one oar with both hands, and sculling, where the athlete has two
oars -- one in each hand.
even numbers. Sweep rowers come in 2's (pairs), 4's (fours) and 8's
(eights). Scullers can row alone (in a single), with somebody else (in
a double), or with three other people (in a quad). Scullers steer their
own boat, using a rudder that they move with their foot. Sweep rowers
may or may not have a coxswain -- the on-the-water coach and person who
steers. For example, all eights have a coxswain, but pairs and fours may
or may not.
only looks easy. Great rowing looks graceful and fluid, but don't
be fooled. Pulling oar blades smoothly and effectively through the water
while balancing a boat that may be as narrow as 11 inches; across with
10-12 foot oars is very difficult work. Watch how quickly that graceful
motion before the finish line turns into pain and gasping for air afterwards.
7. High tech versions of age-old equipment.
Although wooden boats were the norm for may years, most of today's rowing
boats - called shells -- are strong, lightweight carbon fiber. The smallest
boat on the water is the single scull, only 27'-30' long, a foot wide
and approximately 30 pounds. The largest is the eight at 60'. Today's
oars -- not paddles -- are also incredibly lightweight. Sweep oars somewhat
longer than sculling oars and have longer handles that are made of wood,
instead of rubber grips on sculling oars.
8. SPM not MPH.
Rowers speak in terms of strokes per minute (SPM); literally the number
of strokes the boat competes in a minute's time. The stroke rate at the
start is high -- 38-45 -- and then "settles" to a race cadence
typically in the 30s. The boats spring to the finish, taking the rate
up once again. The coxswain or stroke of the boat may call a Power 10
-- a demand for the crew's best, strongest 10 strokes. Although the number
of strokes a boat is capable of rowing per minute is indicative of speed
and talent, the boat getting the most distance out of every stroke may
win the race.
9. Timing is everything.
Rowing competitions are typically conducted on six lanes on the water.
They follow a double-elimination format in a system designed to identify
the fastest six crews for the final race in each category. Heats are first,
followed by repechage (French for second-chance) races. There are no style
points for rowing - the boat whose bow crosses the finish line first is
is number one. Rowing isn't a great choice for athletes looking for
MVP status. It is, however, teamwork's best teacher. The athlete trying
to stand out in the eight will only make the boat slower. It is the crew
made up of individuals willing to sacrifice their goals for the goals
of the team; the athletes determined to match their desire, their talent
and their oar blade with the rower in front of them, that will be on the
USRowing is recognized the the United States Olympic Committee as the
national governing body for the sport. USRowing is responsible for the
selection, training and management of the USRowing National Team that
represents the United States in international competition. Including the
Olympic and Pan American Games.
is the oldest national governing body for amateur sport in the United
States, established in 1872. Rowers across the country are members of
are members of USRowing, but so are men and women of all ages who row
for fitness, competition and fun. As a membership organization, USRowing
provides leadership and opportunities for all people to experience rowing
from recreation to Olympic victory. USRowing's toll-free number is 1-800-314-4-ROW.