Growth in Collegiate Rowing Fuels International Competition

In 1852, Harvard University and Yale University took to Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire to compete in what became known as the first intercollegiate sporting event in the United States. This iconic race set a precedent for the growing popularity of athletic competition at the collegiate level.

Today, rowing continues to facilitate steep competition between universities across the country. At this year’s IRA Championships, Yale heavyweight varsity men’s eight just barely edged out the crew from the University of Washington to take home the national title for the first time in the program’s history.

At the 2017 NCAA rowing championships, the University of Washington’s women’s open weight team swept every event to win the team points title. This win gave way to the Washington women’s team’s fourth national title.

Intercollegiate racing has cultivated a competitive spirit among college-age rowers. This system proves to serve as a pipeline for the United States in its search for athletes fit for international competition.

As collegiate rowing becomes increasingly popular, athletes from many college programs across the country are able to experience high levels of competition, facilitating a greater interest in international racing. Often, athletes come from different colleges in order to row together at one club or selection camp, pooling diverse experiences.

“I think it’s very special how we as athletes can come together from different backgrounds and colleges to represent the USA and work towards a common goal,” stated Makayla Karr-Warner. A recent graduate of Boston University, Karr-Warner is competing in the lightweight women’s quadruple sculls at the 2017 World Rowing Under 23 Championships. “I’m so honored to be a part of such a talented group of young men and women.”

28 Colleges are represented on the 2017 U.S. Under 23 National Team. The University of Washington is the most-represented, with nine athletes competing overseas for the United States. It is impressive to see the number of programs sending athletes to world championships, and it is certainly a testament to the development, quality and expansion of collegiate programs across the country.

“The U.S. collegiate and club system is the lifeblood of our national teams,” said USRowing Director of High Performance, Matt Imes. “The experienced coaching, development and racing these athletes get at the collegiate level is really unprecedented anywhere else in the world. USRowing national teams would be hard-pressed to compete without the support and dedication that the colleges and clubs put into developing their athletes and encouraging them to compete on the Under 23 and Senior national teams.”

For a full list of colleges represented within the United States Under 23 National Team roster, see below:

University of Washington: 9

University of Wisconsin, Madison: 8

Cornell University: 5

Stanford University: 5

Princeton University: 4

Harvard University: 4

Boston University: 3

University of Texas, Austin: 2

University of California, Berkeley: 2

Syracuse University: 2

University of Michigan: 2

Mercyhurst University: 2

University of Pennsylvania: 2

Temple University: 2

College of the Holy Cross: 1

United States Naval Academy: 1

Marietta College: 1

Dartmouth University: 1

Brown University: 1

Oklahoma City University: 1

University of Notre Dame: 1

University of Minnesota: 1

University of California, Los Angeles: 1

Purdue University: 1

Hobart College: 1

George Washington University: 1

Marist College: 1

Northeastern University: 1


Article written by Dan Brauchli, dan@usrowing.org and Elise Gorberg, egorberg@usrowing.org

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