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Rowing is the ultimate team sport. Rowing demands the complete focus and dedication of a team to move the boat uniformly down the racecourse. Every rower in the boat plays a crucial role in allowing the boat to reach its full potential. Athletes learn teamwork, communication, leadership, and responsibility while staying focused on the team’s goal.

 Did You Know?

  • Modern rowing competitions are older than Columbus discovering America. Lord Mayor’s Water Procession began in renaissance England in 1454.

  • The sport of rowing made it to the Americas in the 1700s, where the first recorded race was held in New York in 1756. 

  • The first rowing club in the U.S. was the Detroit Boat Club, founded in 1839.

  • Rowing was the first intercollegiate sport in the United States. The first rowing race was between Harvard and Yale in 1852.

  • From 1920 until 1956, the USA won the gold medal in the men's eight at every Olympic Games.

  • Physiologically, rowers are superb examples of physical conditioning. Cross-country skiers and long-distance speed skaters are comparable in terms of the physical demands the sport places on the athletes.

Types of Rowing

There are two types of rowing: Sweep and Sculling. 


In Sweep, the predominant variety at FHC, each rower holds one oar, which alternates from their seats out each side of the boat. Rowers are therefore at times referred to by their side: Port (LHS) or Starboard (RHS).


Sculling is done with two smaller oars in smaller boats: 1x (single) and 2x (double). Sculling is offered for more experienced rowers and encouraged during summer months on more of a recreational basis.


Classifications of Rowers

FHC Rowing classifications for both Men and Women’s teams are as follows:

  • Novice

  • Varsity

  • Light Weight*

  • Open Class

*Typically, Light Weight Women are 130 lbs. and under while Light Weight Men are 150 lbs. and under.


A coxswain can be male or female regardless of boat class. In high school rowing, eight (8) and four (4) person boats always have a coxswain while pairs (2) often do not.

Spectator Observations

While watching a practice or race, look to see if all blades “catch“ together. That is, do they all enter the water together? 


The crew that’s making it look easy is most likely the one doing the best job. While you’re watching, look for continuous, fluid motion of the rowers. The rowing motion shouldn’t have a discernible end or beginning.


Remember, boats don’t move like a car – they’re slowest at the catch, quickest at the release. The good crews time the catch at just the right moment to maintain the speed of the shell. 


Watch closely for “the drive.” This is the part of the stroke cycle where the rower applies power to the oar. This consists primarily of the leg drive, then straightening the back, and finally pulling in the arms. Although rowing tends to look like an upper body sport, the strength of the rowing stroke comes from the legs.


Rowing looks graceful, elegant and sometimes effortless when it’s done well. Don’t be fooled. Rowers haven’t been called the world’s most physically fit athletes for nothing. A 2,000-meter rowing race demands virtually everything a human being can physically bring to an athletic competition – aerobic ability, technical talent, exceptional mental discipline, ability to utilize oxygen efficiently and in huge amounts, balance, pain tolerance, and the ability to continue to work when the body is demanding that you stop.

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