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Rowing Quick Facts

Did you know….

  • 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.
  • At the 2016 Rio Olympics, the U.S. women’s eight won gold, and the women’s single won silver. At the Paralympics, the U.S. won silver in the legs, trunk and arms four.
  • In 2016, the women’s win in the eight at the Olympics extended their winning streak to 11 in international competition.
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