When to start?

Duncan Holland writes:

I wrote a couple of days ago about how rowing clubs should look after talented youngsters who weren’t part of a National Talent scheme.  Today as I browsed the rowing sites and was looking at the Row2k US Olympic trivia I found something that caused me to think.

Of the 45 athletes in the US Olympic Rowing Team 22 didn’t row before they attended college.  This is a similar pattern to the Dutch Team where domestic rowing is dominated by university clubs and many top athletes don’t start before they leave school.  In both countries there is a vibrant and highly competitive university rowing culture. The USA and the Netherlands are both successful rowing nations and have been consistent producers of fast boats over the last few decades.  They seem to have little problem turning talented young beginners of 19 or 20 into world class rowers.

The question is:  Are countries such as Great Britain that spend much time and energy on young athletes wasting energy, or are the Netherlands and the USA missing the bus by failing to identify enough talent early enough?

What is the ideal age to learn to row?


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