When is Purdue’s Rowing Season?

Our rowing team trains six days-a-week from the beginning of school through our ACRA National Championships in the middle of May after classes have ended. The season is broken up into three separate sections, each section having a different training focus, but all of them preparing the athlete for rowing and competing at the collegiate level for peak performance in May.

During the fall the team focuses mainly on rowing technique, building strength and cardiovascular endurance. If you are a new novice rower, this is when you will learn the basic technique of rowing and begin to build the muscle and endurance to be competitive in racing. The races in the fall are longer than in the spring season, the standard fall race distance covers three miles, the spring 2000 meters.

In early to mid-November focus shifts to land-based training. During this time the athletes work to increase their muscular strength and continue to build upon their cardiovascular base which will be crucial to them as they enter into the spring season. They do this by utilizing a training program which encompasses a lifting regime and intensive training on the indoor rowing machines.

The spring season begins in March usually around our spring break training trip, and runs through May. Spring season is the most competitive part of the racing schedule. Throughout this time we resume water training where we continue to work on rowing technique and learn how to make use of the strength and cardiovascular endurance built during the winter. Spring races cover a distance of 2,000 meters.

What Do You Look For in a Rower?

There are two positions in rowing: The coxswain and the rower. The coxswain’s role is similar to that of a jockey on the back of a horse, but in rowing the coxswain commands and coordinates the efforts of 8 horses. The coxswain is also like the conductor of an orchastra. When we look at coxswains we are looking for competitive individuals who can take charge of a situation and have the desire to lead and motivate themselves and other individuals. The typical coxswain is light, their weight varying from 100-130 pounds. The coxswain is in charge of steering the boat, challenging the crew, and implementing the practice and race plans. They are a large part of what makes the team successful. The coxswain is a specialized position and is crucial in the sport of rowing. On race day, they are in charge and make all the calls.

There are many different qualities that make up a good rower; the most important being determination, competitiveness and the drive to succeed. Competitive rowing is a strength-endurance explosive sport. So if you are strong for your weight and can exercise for a long time, then you have a good jump on basic conditioning. No previous rowing experience is required to be a rower. In fact the majority of our athletes never rowed before, but many come with a strong desire to continue their competitive athletic dreams Our rowers come from a variety of sports backgrounds such as basketball, volleyball, track, cross-country and swimming. These athletes find that Purdue’s rowing program not only presents them with the opportunity to compete at the collegiate level, but also provides them with an amazing team atmosphere, a competitive environment and continual athletic challenges. If you do not have an athletic background, but have a tall, lean physique and have the desire, come and try out .

Are There Different Levels of Purdue Crew?

Our team consists of two squads, the varsity squad and the novice squad. The novice squad includes all incoming freshman or first year rowers (with rare exceptions for top level freshmen). The varsity squad is made up of athletes in their second, third or fourth year of collegiate rowing. Both squads travel and compete at most of the same regattas. The novice rowers compete in a different race classification than varsity, racing against other novice crews, while the varsity squads compete against other varsity crews. We race multiple novice and varsity boats.

Do I need to know how to swim to be able to row?

Yes. For your safety, you should know how to swim. The university requires you to complete a swim test before we go out on the water. It is a simple test; it includes swimming 50 meters using elementary back-stoke, breast stroke and crawl each, treading water for one minute and swimming for five minutes. You do not have to excel at swimming to row. Common sense requires you to be able to take care of yourself in an open water environment. It is very rare that anyone will find themselves out of the boat and in the water. The swim test is not a timed test. Slow, confident, good swimming is just fine.

What is a novice rower?

A novice rower is a first-year rower. No matter what your experience or athletic ability is, with rare exceptions, everyone is on the novice team their first year on Purdue Crew. Purdue Crew is comprised of four squads, Novice Women, Varsity Women, Novice Men and Varsity Men. At all regattas novice compete against the novice squads from other schools. This means you have a chance of winning championships your first year on the team!

Are there different weight classes for rowing?

Yes, there are two weight classes, lightweight and open weight. Lightweights are 160 pounds and under for men and 130 pounds and under for women. All other rowers are considered open weight. If you are very small you might want to consider becoming a coxswain.

What if I have rowed before?

Purdue Crew has a healthy mix of experienced athletes with a competitive rowing background and those entirely new to the sport. Whatever your background, if you pride yourself on being an athlete and a hard-worker, there's a place for you on our team.

What is the time commitment?

Practices are 6 days a week, 2 hours per day. Traveling is heavier in the Spring semester. No matter what your major is, it is feasible to be on Crew and still excel in school. The majority of our athletes are engineering and science majors and we have students representing almost all majors.

What type of membership fees are there?

While we do compete against many other scholarship programs across the country, we are still a club team and must pay membership dues to cover travel, maintenance of equipment, and other expenses. These dues are monthly and will cover everything from using our equipment and boathouse facility to the food, bus rides, and regatta entry costs when we travel. In addition, we invite you to try out the crew experience for 3 weeks at the beginning of the year completely free to see if it is something you’d like to do.

Where Does Purdue Crew Compete?

We compete at a number of regattas across the country, and our opponents are both intercollegiate and university club teams. Our year's schedule and exact regattas can be found here