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The Sport - Beyond Recreation

Records of rowing for competition exist from the time of ancient Egypt. But the first modern rowing competitions occurred in London, England on the River Thames in the 18th century. Rowing was one of the 22 original sports in the modern Olympic Games, which began in 1896. Forty-eight athletes from the U.S. went to the 2000 Olympics to row (the third largest delegation).

Rowers use specialized, and often expensive equipment, to practice and compete in the sport. The largest boats, called eights (which seat eight rowers), are about 60 feet long. Eights can carry up to 1,750 pounds, but the best shells weigh as little as 200 pounds, according to U.S. Rowing. The smallest boats, called singles (they carry one rower), are only 27 feet long and weight less than 30 pounds. These boats can be as narrow as 10 inches across.

Rowing oars are also extremely specialized, differing from both canoeing and kayaking oars in blade and shaft design. Oars are designed in order to increase boat speed as much as possible.

Visit the Competition page to learn more about rowing competitions. Visit the Equipment page to learn more about racing shells and oars.