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Rowing, or crew is one of the oldest Olympic sports.   Read on to learn more about the sport in general and learn to speak crew.

There are two forms of rowing:

  • Sweep rowing, where each rower has one oar and rows in pairs, 4s or 8s, and there is a coxswain to set the stroke and steer the boat.

  • Sculling, where each rower has two oars and rows in singles, doubles or quads and there is no coxswain.


Racing boats are narrow to cut through the water quickly and have sliding seats to allow rowers’ legs to supply power to the stroke.

Rowing is one of the few non-weight-bearing sports that exercises all major muscle groups. When it is not possible to train in the water, rowers train indoors on the rowing ergometer or erg.

Rowers are named by their position on the boat, or their “seat.” The stern pair (the pair at the back of the boat) are the Stroke and Seven positions. The Stroke seats sets the stroke rhythm for the boat and Seven seat matches this rhythm and sets it for his or her side of the boat. This is usually a very technically sound pair of rowers. Seats Three, Four, Five and Six are the “Engine Room” for the boat and usually the most powerful and heaviest rowers. The bow pair (at the front), seats One and Two, are responsible for the direction and stability of the boat and must be agile and responsive. Our sweep boats have a coxswain, or cox, to steer the boat and coach the crew. This person is the smallest person on the boat. If there is no room for a coxswain, the Bowman gives calls to the crew.

Rowing competitions in the US are called “regattas.” The standard distance is 2000 meters, long enough to require endurance but short enough to be a sprint. 

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