Quickie History Lesson on the Sport of Rowing

 In Blog

I’m digging the rowing drills this cycle so much that I became curious about the history of the sport.

Here are some quickie historical facts about rowing as a sport:

  • The first reference to rowing as a sport, and not simply as a means of transportation, comes from a fifteenth century BC Egyptian funerary carving.
  • In Virgil’s Aeneid V, written between 29 and 19 BC (one of the first known sports novels!), rowing was part of the funeral games for Aeneas.
  • Although there is no official record of when rowing was first brought to America, the first recorded race took place in New York Harbor in 1756. Once rowing was brought to America, it found its way into the sports programs of several of the country’s most prestigious colleges. Since the early 1800s, rowing has been a mainstay on U.S. college campuses and is easily the oldest intercollegiate sport in America.
  • When Yale challenged Harvard to the first intercollegiate boat race in 1852, the sport rocketed to prevalence and, for several decades, outpaced football in terms of popularity.
  • Rowing debuted as an Olympic sport in 1900 (the second of the Modern Olympics), and the United States was finally able to showcase its rowing talents to the world, winning gold in 1900 and again in 1904.

Quickie History of the indoor rowing machine:

  • An Athenian admiral of the 4th century BCE, introduced the first rowing machines as supplemental military training devices. “To train inexperienced oarsmen, wooden rowing frames were built on shore where beginners could learn technique and timing before they went on board ship.”
  • In the 1950s and 1960s, coaches in many countries began using specially made rowing machines for training and improved power measurement. One original design incorporated a large, heavy, solid iron flywheel with a mechanical friction brake.
  • In the 1970s, the Gjessing-Nilson ergometer from Norway used a friction brake mechanism with industrial strapping applied over the broad rim of the flywheel. Weights hanging from the strap ensured that an adjustable and predictable friction could be calculated.
  • The first air resistance ergometers were introduced in 1980 by Repco.
  • The Concept2 ergometer was introduced in 1980 by the Dreissigacker brothers. The first, the Model A, was a fixed-frame sliding-seat design using a bicycle wheel with fins attached for air resistance. The Model B, introduced in 1986, introduced a solid cast flywheel (now enclosed by a cage) and the first digital performance monitor, which proved revolutionary.
  • Per Concept 2, below are the world records for indoor rowing (erg) distances:
    • Weight Classes for reference:
      • Lightweight Women: <= 135lbs (61.5kg)
      • Heavyweight Women: > 135 lbs (61.6kg)
      • Lightweight Men: <= 165lbs (75kg)
      • Heavyweight Men: > 165lbs (75kg)


Event Gender Age Weight Class Time Name/Country Year
500m M 19-29 Lightweight 1:21.5 Miłosz Jankowski/POL 2015
500m F 19-29 Lightweight 1:38.8 Nicole Dinion/USA 2014
500m M 19-29 Heavyweight 1:13.7 Bernhard Pfaller/AUT 2009
500m F 19-29 Heavyweight 1:26.6 Cissi Velin/SWE 2016
500m M 30-49 Lightweight 1:22.3 Mitch Perley/USA 2016
500m F 30-49 Lwt 1:33.4 Sam Briggs/GBR 2016
500m M 30-49 Hwt 1:10.5 Leo Young/AUS 1991
500m F 30-49 Hwt 1:29.1 Renate Duplessi/USA 2013
2000 M 19-29 Ltw 5:56.7 Henrik Stephansen/DEN 2013
2000 F 19-29 Ltw 6:54.7 Ursula Grobler/USA 2010
2000 M 19-29 Hwt 5:38.3 Rob Waddell/NZL 1999
2000 F 19-29 Hwt 6:25.0 Olena Buryak/UKR 2015
2000 M 30-49 Lwt 6:06.4 Eskild Ebbesen/DEN 2004
2000 F 30-49 Lwt 6:56.7 Lisa Schlenker/USA 2000
2000 M 30-49 Hwt 5:36.6 Rob Waddell/NZL 2008
2000 F 30-49 Hwt 6:28.8 Sarah Winckless/GBR 2004
6000 M 19-29 Lwt 19:25.5 Tycho Muda/NED 2015
6000 F 19-29 Lwt 22:02.2 Michelle Sechser/USA 2014
6000 M 19-29 Hwt 18:03.1 Martin Sinkovic/CRO 2016
6000 F 19-29 Hwt 21:05.5 Ieva Adomaviciute/LTU 2015
6000 M 30-49 Lwt 19:34.9 Will Daly/USA 2014
6000 F 30-49 Lwt 22:15.0 Ank Hobbes/NED 2004
6000 M 30-49 Hwt 18.16.8 Eric Murray/NZL 2015
6000 F 30-49 Hwt 22.12.8 Marilyn Taylor/CAN 2003

Keeping having fun with the drill sessions and may your rowing ever improve.


Friday’s Workout
Recovery: Practice

Box squats

B) EMOM 20
Odd: 5 Strict Ring dips
Even: 5 Strict pullups

Saturday’s Workout

“Killer Kettlebells For Three”

FT as team of 3 w/ 1 person working at a time
300 RKBS (24/16)
225 Goblet squats
150 KB Russian twists
75 KB Snatches
–30min Cap–

Monday’s Workout
Mental Toughness

In 30min complete as much work as possible following this ascending pattern:
10 Burpees
100m Run
20 Burpees
200m Run
30 Burpees
300m Run



Recent Posts

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Start typing and press Enter to search