Just Row For It

By: JAMIE HOM

Edited by: ERINN BOON

Your feet push of the footboards like you are diving into a pool. Your arms pull back as you pull the handles towards you feeling resistance. All you hear around you is the hissing noise of the turning fans within the machine. This was my first experience with a rowing machine, commonly called an ergometer.

Crew, by definition is “the sport of racing with racing shells”. However, during the winter, ergometers provide training on land when water training is unavailable due to the cold weather and freezing water. Regardless of the weather conditions, I fell in love with this sport and still row today on the Ithaca College Women’s Crew Team because being out in a rowing shell pushes me to be the best athletic version of myself, moreover, having those around me getting the same satisfaction.

Out on the water, there are various types of boats and shells: 8s, 4s, doubles and singles. In the 8s and 4s there are the rowers and also a coxswain. Coxswains motivate the rowers, calling technique improvements that need to be made, while also motivating their rowers to keep going through the entire piece or race. In addition, coxswains steer the boat. In college I row in an 8-person shell.

U.S. Rowing reports that the average woman rower is approximately six feet tall. A study conducted by University of Copenhagen Exercise Scientist, Niels Secher, shows that most elite rowers are tall and have lean, muscular bodies. However, this did not stop me from falling in love with the sport and rowing in general. I am the opposite of what people may picture a collegiate rower as. I am short, only about five foot three inches. I am sometime mistaken as a coxswain but rowing, for many athletes including myself, is about the work put in to succeed and sharing that work with others who have the same drive and goals.

While watching a rower, the stroke looks fluid but in reality the strokes are made up of four sequential elements: the catch, the drive, the finish and the recovery. Rowing is not all-upper body, which is a big myth circling around the sport. It is a full body sport testing strength and provides a killer cardio workout. In a guest appearance on The Today Show by World Rowing Champion, Josh Crosby, he said that rowing allows you to work nine major muscles groups: quads, hamstrings, glutes, lats, core, shoulder, triceps, back, biceps. With every stroke taken, you are working your posture while also getting an awesome cardio workout.

Another huge part of this sport is the strong presence of team unity. In an eight-person shell, the boat can weigh up to 210 pounds and run about 60 feet long, according to the Official World Rowing website. The eight rowers in the boat move in a synchronized rhythm, propelling the shell. My coach, Becky Robinson, Ithaca ’88, M.S, says, “when you become part of the rowing team, one has to give up your individuality in order to make the team better”. With that, you give up your individuality because each rower has to move as one.

This sport not only tests a person’s limit, forcing them to fight for every inch during a race, but also causes them to realize that their teammates are right there, every step of the way. Coming into a sport where most rowers do not learn how to row until college, I was not intimidated to try crew, even if I had no previous knowledge of what crew was. It is an opportunity to learn and is the embodiment of coordination, endurance and teamwork.

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