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Rowing can be either recreational for enjoyment and fitness, or competitive when athletes race against each other in boats.

If you want to see if rowing is for you, please come along to the clubhouse of a local club nearby. It involves propelling a boat (racing shell) on water using oars. By pushing against the water with an oar, a force is generated to move the boat.

The training and physical strain on the body required to be a successful rower is intense. A very tough mind and body is needed to succeed. Physiologically, rowers are superb examples of physical conditioning. Some claim that rowing a 2,000-meter race (1.25 miles) in 6 minutes is equal to playing back-to-back basketball games.

Boat Classes

There are a number of different boat classes in which athletes compete, ranging from an individual shell (called a single scull) to an eight-person shell with a coxswain (called a coxed eight).

Single sculls may be as narrow as 30cm across, weigh only 11kg, and stretch nearly 9 meters long. Since these boats capsize easily, good safety and recovery training is essential.

Eight-oared shells are about 20 meters long. They carry more than three-quarters of a ton (1,750 pounds), may weigh as little as 80kg. Most boats are made of a fibreglass composite material.

Rowing Safety

Although it is named a "Safety Test", it is actually an experience that simulates the capsize of a rowing boat to ensure you are fully prepared and know how to react if the inevitable occasionally happens in reality. It is a requirement of most rowing clubs that all members pass the Swim Test and a Capsize Drill within their first season at that club with ongoing practice thereafter.

Rowing History

Rowing is a sport which goes back to Ancient Egyptian times. Modern rowing as a competitive sport can be traced to the early 17th century when races (regattas) were held between professional watermen on the River Thames in London, United Kingdom. Often prizes were offered by the London Guilds and Livery Companies.

Amateur competition began towards the end of the 18th century with the arrival of "boat clubs" at the British public schools of Eton College, Shrewsbury School, Durham School, and Westminster School. Similarly, clubs were formed at the University of Oxford, with a race held between Brasenose College and Jesus College in 1815. At the University of Cambridge the first recorded races were in 1827.

Public rowing clubs were beginning at the same time. In England the Leander Club was founded in 1818, in Germany Der Hamburger und Germania Ruder Club was founded in 1836, and in the United States the Narragansett Boat Club was founded in 1838 and Detroit Boat Club was founded in 1839. In 1843, the first American college rowing club was formed at Yale University.

The International Rowing Federation (French: Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d'Aviron, abbreviated FISA), responsible for international governance of rowing, was founded in 1892 to provide regulation at a time when the sport was gaining popularity. Across six continents, 150 countries now have rowing federations that participate in the sport.

Rowing is one of the oldest Olympic sports. Though it was on the programme for the 1896 games, racing did not take place due to bad weather. Male rowers have competed since the 1900 Summer Olympics. Women's rowing was added to the Olympic programme in 1976. Today, there are fourteen boat classes which race at the Olympics.

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