I love sports for so many reasons, rowing in particular. Because I’ve devoted my recent blog entries to rowing, I’ve turned this entry over to some of my rowing readers. Open weights, lightweights, collegiate, club, and Olympic rowers took the time to share their reasons for loving this sport, one that requires uncommon dedication, thanks to its need for fragile, pricey equipment and flat water (difficult to find in most places as it depends on proximity to a sufficiently-sized, slow-moving source, weather conditions, and limited commercial and private boat traffic). Did I forget to mention its near-heroic demand for both mental and physical endurance? Add in that rowing is decidedly NOT a particularly accommodating spectator sport, and now you have myriad reasons to turn away from it. Instead, rowing continues to grow, especially among women. With a history in the US that dates back to the start of collegiate competition, rowing is not disappearing from our landscape anytime soon. ROCK ON!

“The people in the sport. This is my 52nd year rowing and I am friends with people from my first year.” Ken Lynch
“Love the feeling, the physical motions, and the sounds. Love sculling best, 1x / 2x. Nothing like the joy of a well blending & fast double, picking up and flying. Loved it when I was faster, still love sculling now am slower. Loved the work and the easy strokes too. (Now they have to be all easy strokes). Never thought of hard training as “pain”, was more like “distress” for me. Still enjoy how it uses all the senses.” Annie Robbart

“When I row there is nowhere else to be but in the moment.” KC Dietz

“A perfect combination of beauty, pain, sense of mastery, and comradeship.” Ruth Kennedy Sudduth

“It is the uncommon bond of complete trust that comes through training and is exemplified in competition. Rowers who have very little in common away from the water become one when shoving from the dock. It is the instant affinity you feel when you meet someone new in a non-rowing setting who readily identifies themselves as a rower.” Michael A. Hurley

“It takes you as deep as you can go. It’s gritty & sweaty and tedious but beautiful and graceful too. You have to find balance and be very quiet, but at the extremes of effort. You come face to face with your own Achilles heel everyday – especially in selection – and you have to get over it. And you do this all with your adversaries, many of whom are your most cherished friends. It continues and unfolds long after you think it would. Now our children are out there, discovering what we discovered. How lucky we all are.” Liz Miles

“…love of water… just have always loved being in/near/watching/swimming/paddling/diving. Could stare at a puddle for hours or spend 7 years studying algae… anything in water = good.
…there are 8 or 4 or 1 people expecting me to be there and be strong- no other sport pulls that off at 5am at a master’s level
…the good strokes are elusive and gratifying

…to row well, thoughts of anything else have to go, and that is a treasured break from the multitasking of all the rest of my life
…. it is the best view of Portland- herons, eagles, bridges. When I haven’t been on the water in a while, I start to feel lost.
….I will row in my sleep tonight, likely kicking my partner, and nothing else gets to my whatever muscle memory subliminal core that deeply.
… community of mixed ages- from mid-20s to few amazing late 70 year olds, people with kids & people w/o, in a way the rest of my life doesn’t pull together. It’s great to have the regular support of friends who have made it past this young child/ working full time thing to tell me it is crazy, and see that they for the most part have young adult kids who seem like decent human beings.” Keska Kemper

“Though the sport has clearly played a significant role in my life – family, friends, agony, defeat, victory, accomplishment – not having it be such a big part of my life any more – an active part, is very, very hard. That being said, the sport and my involvement in it has had a huge role in defining who I am, how I tackle challenges, how I approach friendship, and what my goal will be if my body ever starts working properly again: gotta get back in a boat. ;> (and ride a bike. and hike in the dolomites. Why have one goal, when three are better? ;> ) Not sure if all that connotes love of a sport, but it sure tells of a complicated relationship!” Lara Rubin

“I love rowing because it allows the rower to challenge herself to find her best. Simply trying to be the best you can be. And these lessons we all learn in rowing we then apply to other aspects of our lives….and our lives are richer for that experience.” Mary O’Connor

“I like rowing because it provides an outlet for intense, goal-oriented, competitive mental and physical effort while also providing collegial social experiences and unbelievable aesthetic input, including the sensation if swing, the sound of the hull running and blades splashing, and of course breathtaking visual images of the world from the water.” Stephen Tilles

“There is nothing — absolutely NOTHING — half so much worth doing as simply messing-about in boats.” Kenneth Grahame’s “The Wind in the Willows”


Photos provided by Bill Pickard, Dartmouth College graduate and member of George Pocock Rowing Foundation