Crew, or rowing is one of the oldest sports in the world. The first known "modern" rowing races began on the River Thames in London. Over time, amateur competition began and gave way to collegiate rowing clubs.
In 1935, theSchoolboy Rowing Association of America was formed to foster schoolboy rowing and to stage an annual regatta open to all schools of the world, the winner to be recognized as North American Champions. The name was changed to Scholastic Rowing Association of America in 1976 to reflect the addition of women.
Once only available to students at Ivy League colleges and a handful of prep schools, the sport of rowing has grown from its elite beginnings into a mainstream sport with many high schools, universities, and colleges competing in national events.
Rowing has gained in popularity due to its unique combination of physical benefits and its ultimate form of teamwork. In crew, everything relies on the team pulling together as one.
Rowing is different from other sports. You don't have to have lots of experience, skills, and insights built-up over years to become good. Coaches like novices because they are easier to teach. Regardless of your size, shape and ability, there is a place for you on the high school crew team.
These six schools feature rowing programs of varied histories and skill levels.
6 Boarding Schools with Rowing Programs
Brentwood College School is a co-educational university preparatory school for students in grades 9 through 12 in British Columbia, Canada. The school is home to the internationally renowned Brentwood Rowing Club and has a highly distinguished history that has produced many Olympians, including gold medalists. Brentwood rowing attracts enthusiastic athletes who are interested in learning to row, or in further developing their skill, endurance, and performance on the water.
With facilities include an indoor rowing tank, an enviably equipped boathouse, and an expanse of ocean, it is not surprising that Brentwoods’ athletes continue to add hardware and glory to a program that has produced more than 86 national championships in the last 37 years. Brentwood sends crews to all of the local regattas, Opening Day and Head of the Lake in Seattle, and the Head of the Charles in Boston, Massachusetts.
At Worcester Academy, the main campus sits only a few miles 6 from Lake Quinsigamond, a rowing hot spot for weekend regattas for both high school and college.
In 2008, Worcester Academy, a co-educational boarding and day school in Worcester, Massachusetts relaunched crew as a varsity sport. Since then, the Hilltoppers have built a comprehensive program featuring boys’ and girls’ varsity fours. Athletes row on Lake Quinsigamond and store their shells at the Donahue Rowing Center in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. Training features a combination of on and off the water workouts, with land practices taking place on campus at the Daniels Gymnasium.
Ridley College (also known as Bishop Ridley College, Ridley, BRC or RC) is a co-educational boarding and day school located in St. Catherine’s, Ontario, Canada. One of Ridley's most renowned athletics programs includes its strong rowing traditions. Ridley has won the UK Royal Henley Regatta's prestigious Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup four times, the most of any Canadian boarding school and has trained numerous Canadian Olympic rowers. With a rich history, Ridley rowing spans many decades. At present, the team strives to assist athletes’ physical and mental as well as emotional development through positive training and racing experiences.
Founded in 1894, Pomfret School is an independent coeducational college prep boarding and day school. Set on a 500-acre campus in Northeastern Connecticut Pomfret offers a variety of athletic opportunities, including rowing. With varsity and junior varsity boys’ and girls’ crews, Pomfret rows on a protected, mile-long lake near the school, out of their own boathouse, which sits on Quassett Lake and provides modern facilities for the team. Pomfret rows annually in the Founder’s Day Regatta on Lake Waramaug, and host a significant regatta, the du Pont Cup; and are members of the New England Interscholastic Rowing Association.
Athletes begin their season in the spring with a pre-season trip, and are expected to attend regular season practices and regattas. Several students who have rowed at Pomfret have gone on to row in College and beyond, including the World Rowing Championships and Olympic training camps.
Tabor Academy is a coeducational, rigorous, college preparatory boarding and day school in Marion, Massachusetts. Its waterfront campus allows for academic programs and opportunities not possible elsewhere, including rowing, a program that dates back to 1919.
Tabor was one of the original founding members of the New England Interscholastic Rowing Association. In almost a century of rowing, Tabor Academy has earned dozens of medals and competitions. In recent years, Tabor has continued to win NEIRA championships, win invitations to the USRowing Youth National Championships and travel to England to race at the Henley Royal Regatta on a regular basis.
Tabor’s Crew Teams have a proud tradition of rowing excellence throughout the New England Region. The Girls' and Boys’ programs fields anywhere from 4 to 5 eights each spring and competes against some of the most competitive programs in the US. Each season, the crews race throughout New England. The culmination of racing occurs with the New England Interscholastic Regatta Association (NEIRA) Championships on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, MA.
At St. Mark's School, a coed prep school in Southborough, Massachusetts, rowing is among the athletic offerings. St. Mark’s rows out of the Donahue Rowing center on Lake Quinsigamond, which plays host to the league championship, the NEIRA regatta. St. Mark’s races exclusively in fours and competes against other similarly sized programs in and out of the ISL. In the past five years, the St. Mark’s varsity crew has strung together five consecutive winning seasons.
As only a few St. Markers have ever rowed before they set foot on campus, the team relies on athletes who are willing to try a new sport. An ideal rower is one who is goal oriented, takes criticism well, loves racing, and above all, knows how to be a good teammate. Likewise, the mission of the program is for every athlete to contribute to the success of the program while meeting challenging individual goals.
It's hard to think of another sport where you can arrive inexperienced and become very good so quickly.
Each of these school’s rowing programs provides an opportunity to develop new skills, while learning how to be a part of a team, achieving goals and enjoying a full body workout. Rowing is a fantastic way to enjoy the great outdoors and is a sport you can enjoy throughout your life. Many rowers go on to row in college and after, as it can be performed and enjoyed at any age.