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How to Continue Rowing After College

Apr 20, 2018



Graduation is ahead, and in addition to the midterms and finals, you may be eager to put the stress of erg tests behind you. Some high school and college athletes continue rowing on the national team level, many bound for international competition. But what is there for the rest of us?

Luckily, rowing is a lifelong sport, so there are many ways to stay involved in the sport you love.

Cornell University Rowing, 1996
  1. Find a Boathouse. USRowing provides a resource to help you find a local club—wherever you may end up after graduation. (Internationally, contact the local governing bodies to see what might be available.) Many athletes say that the best way to find new friends in a new city is to find the nearest erg. There is great diversity in the types of programs available. Some boathouses are large organizations with junior, competitive and masters programs in every boat class. Other clubs may be informal groups of athletes who train and race individually but share equipment or resources. Whether you’re eager to stay competitive, row socially, or learn a new skill, there are opportunities to continue rowing. As you consider where you’re going to live after graduation, research options that will fit your new lifestyle, whether you’re in graduate school, a gap year or a new job. Considerations:
  • What time of day best fits your schedule?
  • How important is competition and racing to you?
  • Do you want to row on a team or alone?
  • What is your budget?
head racing, 2017
  1. Scull. Most American high school and college athletes receive limited coaching in a single scull but rowing in a single gives you the most flexibility to continue the sport on your own schedule. Sweep athletes will still have a learning curve as they transition from one oars to two but there will be a lot of fitness, “boat feel” and technique that carries over. It can take some time to feel comfortable in the boat, set it perfectly, and take fast strokes. The rewards are great, however, when you are the only athlete who can be credited with your skills! To ramp up your transition to sculling, you may want to consider a rowing camp. Camp can be a fun “vacation” and it gives you dedicated time to get coached and (perhaps) try out different equipment. Otherwise, most boathouses can help you with renting a single and coaching. You may be interested in buying your own shell and oars. Once you have your own equipment, you can row almost anywhere! Your former coaches and teammates can be great resources on recommendations for hull shape, size and brands. Consider both the type of water you have access to (flat water, river, tidal) and the type of rowing you’ll be doing (recreational or competitive). It may make sense to buy used equipment (see classifieds) before you invest in performance gear. As always, Concept2 is available to help you with any of your oar needs. Give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.
  2. Coach, Referee, Volunteer. Give back to the sport that gave you so much. USRowing has plenty of resources to help you stay connected to rowing, from coaching certification to refereeing. Plenty of programs—perhaps even yours—rely on volunteers as assistant coaches (or interns), fundraisers or athlete supporters. These opportunities can be wonderful leadership experiences for recent graduates. There are many creative ways to stay involved. Perhaps you can’t commit to ongoing involvement but you can cheer on your team at a regatta. Send younger teammates well wishes (or spring break care packages!). Support your team with alumni donations or boat up with teammates at a homecoming or reunion row. Your experience as an athlete can help to build up future generations.
  3. Join a Gym. Whether you continue to row outdoors or not, joining the gym will help you stay fit. And there in the corner you’ll often find your old training pal… the erg. Our Indoor Rower Finder will help you find an erg at your local gym (or while traveling!). You can always rely on your years of rowing for familiarity with proper rowing technique. As an “official rower”, this often puts you in the role as an ambassador for the sport, intentionally or not. Consider hosting a rowing clinic if there is interest. Concept2 provides plenty of free resources to help spread the word of proper technique far and wide: free online technique videos, free technique posters and trainer education. Feel free to share these with general gym members. There are plenty of fitness enthusiasts who embrace rowing and will never touch an oar. They’re often intimidated to row next to the “real rower” or they’re curious for some pointers. We encourage athletes to be kind and generous with their talents.
  4. Row Indoors. Just because you hang up your unisuit, it doesn’t mean you’re no longer a “rower”! The indoor rower makes it easy to continue to stay fit even if you no longer have track bite. Many former oarsmen and oarswomen purchase a Concept2 Indoor Rower for their homes after they finish their competitive careers. It’s an efficient workout and its familiarity makes it appealing. So what do you do when you no longer see the same splits as when you were training? Keep rowing. It can be frustrating when your competitive splits are no longer reflected on the Performance Monitor, but plenty of masters athletes will explain that it’s just part of getting older. It is also unrealistic to compare your splits when you’ve moved on from competitive team training. If it helps, you can always try training in other units (such as watts) or cover the Performance Monitor. Remove the stress from your workouts and enjoy the fitness benefits!

There are plenty of other ways to stay motivated with indoor rowing past high school or college:

  • Join an Online Challenge! You can even represent your school or team with our Affiliations.
  • Rank your workouts. You can compare your times across others in your age group and gender.
  • Race! Your competitive days don’t have to be over. There are indoor races, no boat required.

Congratulations, Class of 2018. We look forward to seeing where rowing takes you!

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