An Introduction to Rowing and Crew
By Audrey Roche
Crew is a lesser known sport to many, although thanks to HB and their partnership with the Foundry, it might ring a bell to you, which is honestly far better than most. However, I will say it has grown more and more popular in the past couple years. Prior to contrary belief, Crew is nothing like kayaking. The boats are much more narrow and significantly longer. You can race up to 8 people in a rowing shell (boat)! The oars are also taller than the average person. Here’s a nice visual from the De Montfort University Rowing Club at the BUCS Regatta:
Rowing is actually a full body sport! Your legs are the biggest and strongest muscle in your body, so naturally it’s the most used in rowing as well (not your arms, which is another common misconception.) You can either be a rower or coxswain in rowing (or both, if you want to). Rowers are pretty much self-explanatory: the people who move the boat with the oars. Coxswains are the people who steer the boat and yell words of encouragement at the rowers. Both are equally important!
So now that you know a little bit about Crew, I can tell you my experience rowing for the Cleveland Foundry Juniors. I started rowing the summer before 6th grade. I was a significantly unathletic kid. I had already tried just about every sport offered to me, and I was unimaginably awful at every single one of them. My Dad (I like to think as his last desperate attempt to turn me into a kid who enjoys sports) signed me up for the Learn to Row program. Like any 6th grader who had to get up before 7 in the summer, I disliked what I was doing. Eventually it grew on me, and I ended up falling in love with the sport. I loved it because it challenged me both physically and mentally. No matter how hard you’re pushing, you’re not going anywhere if you’re using improper rowing technique, which meant that we spend a lot of our practices discussing how to get the boat moving the fastest, which has a lot to do with physics.
The quality I believe sets rowing apart from most other sports is its synchrony. In order to efficiently move the boat, everyone has to be rowing at the exact same time. Even the littlest of movements can affect the overall speed of the shell. When a boat is in time together, you can feel the shell glide on the water perfectly. Having to move as one takes a lot of time and effort, and also requires everyone to know each other well. I feel this closeness really creates a wonderful environment on a team. When I joined, girls I had never met before were treating me as if I was family. I made friends immediately. Surprisingly, my favorite part of practice would be after really hard pieces. The girls who finished before the others will get up and breathily cheer on the person next to them. It’s clear that they are exhausted, so much that they can barely stand up without shaking, but they don’t stop cheering until the last person finishes the piece. It is a wonderful team atmosphere, and a really amazing thing to be a part of.
Crew was the perfect sport for me. For never being a competitive kid, it gave me just the right dose of teamwork and hard work. It has really shaped the person I am today.