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Rowing Quick Facts

Rowing is one of the original sports in the modern Olympic Games.

Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, was a rower.

Rowers are the third largest U.S. delegation (48 athletes) to the Olympic Games.

Eight-oared shells are about 60-feet long - that’s 20 yards on a football field.

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

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.

An eight, which carries more than three-quarters of a ton (1,750 pounds), may weigh as little as 200 pounds. The boats are made of fiberglass composite material.

Singles may be as narrow as 10 inches across, weigh only 23 pounds, and stretch nearly 27-feet long.

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

The first amateur sport organization was a rowing club - Philadelphia’s Schuylkill Navy, founded in 1858.

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

The first national governing body for a sport in the United States was for rowing. Founded as the National Association for Amateur Oarsmen in 1872, it was changed in 1982 to the United States Rowing Association.

Yale College founded the first collegiate boat club in the U.S. in 1843.

FISA, the first international sports federation, was founded in 1892.

Dr. Benjamin Spock, the famous baby doctor, was an Olympic rower in 1924 and won a gold medal in the eight. Gregory Peck rowed at the University of California in 1937.

Physiologists claim that rowing a 2,000-meter race - equivalent to 1.25 miles - is equal to playing back-to-back basketball games.

In 1997, Jamie Koven became the first American to win the men’s single sculls at the world championships since 1966.

In 1999, the U.S. men’s eight won its third consecutive gold medal at the world championships, a first in U.S. history.

In 2004, the U.S. men's eight won gold at the Olympic Games.

In 2008, the U.S. won gold in the women's eight at the Olympic Games.

At the 2012 London Olympic Games, the U.S. women's eight won gold. At the Paralympics, the U.S. won bronze in the trunk and arms mixed double, a first in U.S. history.

In 2013, at the World Rowing Championships the U.S. women's eight won gold and extended its streak of eight consecutive world or Olympic titles. The U.S. won eight total medals in the event, including gold in the women's four, bronze in the men's eight and four and silver in the lightweight women's double sculls.