Structure of US University rowing competitions


Unlike the case with most major collegiate sports in the U.S., collegiate rowing is not governed by “conferences” or groups of schools that join together for marketing and scheduling purposes.

Larger rowing programs in the States are part of the “Intercollegiate Rowing Association” which consists mostly of East Coast Ivy League schools. They compete in a regatta in the late Spring which is considered the intercollegiate championship by most in the rowing community, especially since Harvard and Yale have began competing in the regatta in 2003.

The rest of the field (more or less) competes in the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia, also in the late Spring. Throughout the season, there are various large and small regattas and dual races between schools.

Two types of University Rowing program

Schools that fund their crew programs are considered “varsity” programs.

Schools that do not fund their rowing have “club” programs.

Varsity rowing takes place in the Spring, and races are typically 2,000 meters. Many varsity programs also compete in the Fall as club programs. Fall races are typically “head” races of 2-3 miles.

Thanks to Mark Patterson on Quora for the answer.

And if that doesn’t put you off, why not apply to get a sporting scholarship to study and race in the USA – get a free education

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Barrie Robinson

    I have been very active in searching USA rowing sites looking for coaches and found that, like most things US, the sport of rowing is now a commercial saturated activity. I had a race result which mentioned a crew of a certain university. I got the University web site up but no mention of rowing. In frustration I phoned the University but they said they had no rowing. I said that was strange because they came second at a certain US regatta. “Oh” the said – I must mean the rowing “club”. I also encountered this when I asked a University if I went there could I take up rowing (ha-ha). No they said. But when I pressed on (as I had twigged this “club” thing”) they admitted that there was a very active “club”. So rowing is not a sport to them or an activity, it is a way to make cash or something. Really rather pathetic…and for some unknown reason call rowing “crew”. So when searchimg use “crew” as well as “rowing”.

  2. Rebecca Caroe

    So Barrie, to get this clear both the University and the Club call it ‘crew’?

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