great csr page banner

16 Things You Might Not Know About Rowing

Pool / Pool

Here are the top 16 basic facts and terms regarding rowing, so you can enjoy it more as a spectator, or even perhaps begin to explore it as a sport.

1. The correct way to ask is “Do you row?” or “Are you on the crew team?” Never ask “Do you row crew?” or “Do you crew?” or “Are you going to crewing practice?”

2. It’s called a race or regatta... not a meet, tournament or match.

It’s called a race or regatta... not a meet, tournament or match.

3.There are nine people in the "eight" (the largest type of boat), five people in the “four”, and two people in the “pair”.  It’s called a pair, not a two.


4. Rowing is not an arm workout.  When done correctly, it is 85% legs workout, 5% back workout, 5% core and 5% arms.

5. We row 5k races in the fall (16 minutes long), and 2ks in the spring (6 minutes long).

6. No, we don’t stop our sport in the winter; we cross-train until thoroughly exhausted.

7. They are called oars, not paddles. Oars.

8. Rowing is nothing like kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding or surfing, sorry.

9. Catching a “crab” is not a literal thing. It’s when your oar blade gets stuck in the water because of bad timing in your stroke, swings backward over your head, and stops the entire boat until dislodged. 

10. We gauge how fast we are going by strokes per minute (SPM), not MPH.

11. Rowing is a challenging sport to watch, because it’s impossible to see the whole 2k course, however you typically see the most exciting last two minutes of the races.

12. Coxswains don’t just say “row”.  We are way more persuasive and cerebral to get rowers to give their personal bests.

13. Lightweight rowers have to weigh under 130 pounds.  Openweight rowers have no upward weight limit - they just can’t sink the boat.

14. “Sweep rowing” means that each person has one oar, and “sculling” means that each person has two oars.

15. Yes, boats do occasionally flip and sink.

16. Fun fact: did you know that it is a tradition to throw a coxswain into the water when you win a race!?


That’s all for now, add me on Athlete Network and/or LinkedIn and let me know if you have ever tried rowing or want to know more. I’d be happy to chat.


Not a member yet? Join Athlete Network, the one network helping 5 Million athletes advance their careers after sport.