Rowing History

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Rowing History

The History of Crew as a Sport

     Rowing has been around for centuries and stays among the best of competitive sports around the world.  The Greeks discovered the technique of affixing the oar to the side of the boat approximately two thousand years ago.  They discovered that working a single oar against a fulcrum was much more useful and effective than a paddle.  Rowing was primarily used to transport goods, but when there was more than one boat in the water, human nature took over and racing started.

     Professional racers made a decent living in the late 1800's, but gambling on races led to the popular sport's demise.  But in America and England, amateur rowers developed popularity in inter-collegiate competitions.  The first Oxford/Cambridge race was held in 1829.  The first Harvard/Yale race was held in 1852, and is the oldest inter-collegiate event in America.

     Many scientific advancements were then made in the sport; a better boat was a faster boat.  For example, the ancient Greeks, when rowing, sat on seats that slid to allow them to use their legs to drive the boat.  Harvard rowers found a way to grease their pants so that they slid on their immobile seats.  This allowed them to dominate Yale because they were still using only the fixed seats.  This led to the popular use of sliding seats in today's shells.

     Boat clubs started in America in the 1800's. Philadelphia's Schuylkill Navy, begun in 1858, was the first rowing association and the first amateur sports organization.  Collegiate and amateur oarsmen started the National Association for Amateur Oarsmen (NAAO) in 1872.  Women were left out in these clubs, even though they rowed in amateur and collegiate races also.  In the early 1960's the National Women's Rowing Association was formed.  Finally, in 1982, the NAAO and the National Women's Rowing Association joined together to become the co-ed United States Rowing Association. 

Crew at Upper Arlington High School

 Chris Klemek, then a student at UAHS, started Crew as a co-ed club sport at the high school level in the spring of 1993 with 25 rowers and a used boat.  By the next fall, there were 33 rowers and numbers continued to rise.  The rowers became members of the Greater Columbus Rowing Association (GCRA) and rowed out of the GCRA boathouse located on the west side of Griggs Reservoir.  At the close of the 1995 spring racing season, Upper Arlington High School (UAHS) gave out its first "Crew" varsity letters.  In the spring of 2000, UAHS hired a head girls’ coach recognizing both the men’s and women’s teams individual teams. UA Crew Inc. is a member of US Rowing, Midwest Junior Rowing Association, Midwest Scholastic Association, and the Scholastic Rowing Association and participates in sporting events sanctioned by these organizations. 

     To support the rowers both emotionally and financially, a parent’s association was formed to help run the club and raise funds for the purchase of equipment.  In March 1995, the Parent’s Association incorporated and became Upper Arlington Crew Inc. (UA Crew, Inc.).  In 1997, a petition for 501(c)(3) status was granted and UA Crew Inc. became a not-for-profit Ohio corporation exempt from federal income tax.  Today, UA Crew, Inc. maintains ownership of over $350,000 worth of equipment and continues to provide rowers and coaches with the proper equipment and financial resources to field a competitive crew team.

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