About K-State Rowing: Questions & Answers


The Kansas State women’s rowing team is a varsity sport sponsored by the K-State Intercollegiate Athletic Department. Women’s rowing is a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sport. The team is comprised of two groups: Novice and Varsity. The novice squad is made up of all first-year collegiate rowers including freshmen and transfer students, while the Varsity squad encompasses all returning athletes. Both groups share equal status. The novice team is NOT the jayvee (JV) team! The novice travel and compete at the same regattas as the varsity, but the race classifications differ. Novice teams race other novice boats, so that all first-year rowers compete against each other.


The rowing team trains year-round, beginning in August and concluding with the Central Region Championships and NCAA Championships at the end of May. We divide our year into three segments, each with a different objective and training routine. The objectives in the Fall (August-November) are to learn the fundamentals of rowing, develop and increase strength and fitness, establish friendships and get a firm hold on academics. Each fall there are two or three races. The months of December and January are winter-training months. We use the winter months to enhance muscular strength and endurance, and improve cardiovascular fitness. The rowing team utilizes 40 Concept II indoor rowing machines and the 13,000-square foot Newell Strength and Conditioning Complex. The third segment begins in February when the team resumes practices on Tuttle Creek Lake. We utilize our enhanced strength and fitness acquired in the winter months to fine-tune our rowing skills for the racing season which begins in March.


Women’s rowing abides by NCAA practice regulations, which limit a student-athlete to 20 hours of training per week. We train five days per week August through January. From February until the conclusion of the season we practice six days each week.


There are two positions in rowing: the coxswain (pronounced cox-sin) and the rower. Both positions require individuals who are competitive in nature and have the desire to challenge themselves and others both athletically and mentally. Rowers tend to be tall. The most successful rowers are generally over 5-foot-10. But, the key ingredient to a great rower is determination and competitiveness. No prior rowing experience is required to participate in rowing in fact, 95 percent of the current team did not row prior to college. Most of our team participated in basketball, volleyball, swimming, track and field or soccer as high school athletes. Typically the coxswain has a light, lean body, and is willing to learn a new and demanding sport. It is uncommon to have an experienced coxswain on the novice team. Coaches are aware of this and teach you everything you need to know. The height of coxswains vary, the weight range is between 100-120 pounds. In the boat, the coxswain steers the shell (boat), motivates the athletes, helps the rowers make technical changes and executes the race or practice plan.


The spring racing season runs mid-March through the end of May. Regattas are scheduled on weekend dates only. Some races are just one-day events, while others run on Saturday and Sundays. Class time missed by rowing athletes is rather minimal. The Athletic Department pays for all travel expenses.


Typical destinations for our away competitions are Oklahoma, Iowa, California, Texas, Tennessee as well as within the state of Kansas.


Rowing competitions are called regattas. The standard spring racing distance is 2,000 meters (approximately 1.3 miles). It takes a women’s eight oared shell about seven minutes (depending on wind and water conditions) to complete the distance. The start of the race is exciting and physically demanding. The team must pry the shell from a stopped position; as the hull begins to move, they increase the number of strokes taken each minute. The first two minutes of a race is a bit like a sprint. The team then shifts into a rhythmic, but demanding pace for the middle minutes, or "body" of the race. Approaching the last two minutes, the team again swings up the stroke rate and sprints for the finish line.


  • 8+ AND 4+: Eights (8+) and fours (4+) are the most common collegiate competitions and the two events held at the NCAA Championships. The plus indicates a coxswain on board.
  • BOW: The forward end of the boat which crosses the finish line first; the rower in the seat nearest the forward end of the shell, who typically has a quick catch, stable technique and a shorter arc.
  • BLADE: The end of the oar which prys the boat through the water.
  • BUCKET RIGGING: Two riggers on the same side next to each other instead of alternated.
  • CATCH: The entrance of the oar blade into the water at the beginning of the stroke.
  • CHECK: Amount of interruption of forward progress of the shell which commonly occurs at the catch and sometimes at the release.
  • COXSWAIN (COX): Person who steers the shell from a seat located in the stern or a lying position in the bow.
  • CRAB: Upsetting action caused by turning an oar blade in the water so the release is either forced or impossible to make.
  • ERGS: Short for ergometer; individualized rowing simulators that help strength and conditioning.
  • FEATHERING: Turning the oar blade flat during the recovery to lessen wind resistance.
  • FOOT STRETCHER: Where the rower’s feet are tied.
  • HEAD RACE: The traditional fall regatta, in which boats cross the starting line at full speed at roughly 15 second intervals. The course usually involves navigating three miles of river, around bends and under bridges.
  • LIGHTWEIGHT: A crew on which each athlete weighs under a specific amount (130 pounds for women).
  • NOVICE: A rower in the first year of collegiate competition.
  • OAR: A 12’5" long, carbon fiber lever that moves the boat through the water.
  • PORT: The left side of the boat.
  • POWER 10 (OR 20): A tactical move of 10 or 20 strokes; a tactic the cox uses to motivate the crew to meet a specific goal.
  • RECOVERY: The time between strokes while the oar blade is traveling through the air.
  • RELEASE: The oar blade leaving the water at the finish, or end of the stroke.
  • REGATTA: The name of rowing events in which several crews compete.
  • REPECHAGE: A second chance race for those crews which do not automatically advance to the finals of an event through the heat.
  • RIGGER: The metal or carbon fiber structure attached to the side of the boat into which the oar fits
  • RIGGING: The relationship between the oar, the rigger and the position of each rower. Changing the rigging means changing the leverage, just as a bicycle rider changes gears. Most crews have an optimum rigging, depending on their size, strength and experience.
  • RUN: The distance the shell moves during one stroke.
  • SCULLING: Type of rowing where each rower uses two oars.
  • SHELL: Boat used in the rowing races; seats nine people for an Eight and five people for a Four, and ranges in length from 45 feet for a Four to 58 feet for an Eight.
  • SPRINTS: Used in collegiate competition, this type of race features a course which is 2,000 meters long, usually with four to six unmarked or buoyed lanes and a floating or staked start.
  • STARBOARD: The right side of the boat.
  • STERN: The back of the boat; the end the rowers face during competitions.
  • STROKE: A complete cycle of moving the shell through the water; the rower who sits closest to the stern, looks directly at the coxswain in a sterncoxed boat and sets the rhythm for the shell.
  • STOKE RATE: The number of strokes taken per minute, or cadence.
  • SWEEPING: Type of rowing where each rower uses one oar.
  • SWING: The hard-to-define feeling when near-perfect synchronization of motion and power application occurs in the shell, maximizing the shell’s speed.
  • VARSITY: The collegiate rower who competes beyond the novice level.
  • WEIGH ENOUGH: Halt. In general, stop whatever you are doing.


Head Races: Head races usually take place in the fall on rivers; hence, the Head of the Charles, the Head of the Iowa, etc. Crews start onto the course one after the other about 15 seconds apart and navigate three miles of river. Whoever completes the course in the shortest amount of time wins.

2,000-Meter Competition: National, World and Olympic competitions are 2,000 meters or approximately 1- 1/4 miles. Most courses are divided into six buoyed lanes, allowing six boats to participate at any one time. If more than six crews are entered in an event, heats and semifinals may be run to determine who races in the finals. Each race takes between six minutes, 30 seconds and eight minutes depending on boat class as well as wind and water conditions.