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Quotes on Rowing


There is advantage in the wisdom won from pain.
-- Aeschylus

The road to hell has six lanes.
-- Anonymous

Rowing reveals character.
-- Anonymous

Real athletes row -- everyone else just plays games.
-- Anonymous

Rowers do more before 8:00am than most people do all day.
-- Anonymous

Crew is life -- everything else is just details.
-- Anonymous

Crew is not a sport -- it's a way of life.
-- Anonymous

Rowing isn't just one damn stroke after another -- it's the same damn stroke over and over again.
-- Anonymous

Port-oars are rowers who know more and more about less and less until they finally know absolutely everything about nothing. On-the-other-hand, Starboard-oars are rowers who know less and less about more and more until they finally know absolutely nothing about everything. Amazingly, Coxswains make them a crew!
-- Anonymous

Rowing is the only sport that originated as a form of capital punishment.
-- Apocryphal

Gentlemen, let's go row!
-- Robert A. (Bob) Blakely, Wisconsin 1971, Navy Plebe Lightweight Crew Coach 1971-1972

[Rowing] is more than just pulling an oar. It is like golf too—the backswing, the application of power at the right split second. But in rowing, eight men have to do it together when they're tired.
-- Russell Stanley (Rusty) Callow, Head Crew Coach: University of Washington (1922-1927); University of Pennsylvania (1927-1950); United States Naval Academy (1950-1959)

It’s not the best eight rowers that row the best boat, it’s the eight rowers that row best together.
-- Russell Stanley (Rusty) Callow, Head Crew Coach: University of Washington (1922-1927); University of Pennsylvania (1927-1950); United States Naval Academy (1950-1959) as related by Charles (Chuck) Wilbur (USNA 1957), heavyweight coxswain

The race is won with the oars out of the water.
-- Russell Stanley (Rusty) Callow, Head Crew Coach: University of Washington (1922-1927); University of Pennsylvania (1927-1950); United States Naval Academy (1950-1959)

We'll row anybody, anywhere, anytime, under any conditions.
-- Russell Stanley (Rusty) Callow, Head Crew Coach: University of Washington (1922-1927); University of Pennsylvania (1927-1950); United States Naval Academy (1950-1959)

Line us up and start the clock.
-- Russell Stanley (Rusty) Callow, Head Crew Coach: University of Washington (1922-1927); University of Pennsylvania (1927-1950); United States Naval Academy (1950-1959)

Its not laying on the water.
-- Russell Stanley (Rusty) Callow, Head Crew Coach: University of Washington (1922-1927); University of Pennsylvania (1927-1950); United States Naval Academy (1950-1959), this was a response from Coach Callow one snowy spring day when a Navy oarsman asked if the crews were going on the water, and since the snow was not on the water, off the crews went; thanks to Lee Walker, USNA '57, for relating this story

Rowing is more than a fast boat on race day. It's a complementary experience to a young man's intellectual development. Rowing, like success, is a journey, not a destination. I tell my oarsmen to have fun, learn, and most of all grow as individuals. The wins the losses will take care of themselves.
-- Rick Clothier, Head Coach Navy Rowing (1974-2012)

Fitness - Focus - Form.
-- Thomas Phillip (Tom) Cook, USNA 1976, Navy Lightweight Rower

Still loving the sport; still working on the focus.
-- Thomas Phillip (Tom) Cook, USNA 1976, Navy Lightweight Rower

Let the boat work - and not me!
-- Thomas Phillip (Tom) Cook, USNA 1976, Navy Lightweight Rower

The hardest part of rowing properly: Eyes and Minds in The Boat!
-- Thomas Phillip (Tom) Cook, USNA 1976, Navy Lightweight Rower

Follow the stroke - or be the stroke that the rest can follow.
-- Thomas Phillip (Tom) Cook, USNA 1976, Navy Lightweight Rower

When eight row together with swing the boat becomes the ninth rower.
-- Thomas Phillip (Tom) Cook, USNA 1976, Navy Lightweight Rower

The concentration of all seven behind the stroke should be so strong that you know by feel when that stroke has varied his style or rating without the cox announcing it.
-- Thomas Phillip (Tom) Cook, USNA 1976, Navy Lightweight Rower

Rowers are real athletes—all others are mere mortals.
-- William Henry (Dales) Daley III, USNA 1975, Navy Lightweight Rower

You've got to be an extremely aggressive athlete, and you've got to keep the pressure on all the time you cannot - not once - start to think about, 'Gosh, it's getting pretty painful so I should start thinking about something else,' you've really got to focus.
-- Fritz Hagerman, Sports Physiologist

Great rowers are physiological freaks; but, that quality is minimal compared to their psyche and to their ability to essentially experience pain - and experience discomfort - and yet be able to do the work knowing that it's going to continue.
-- Fritz Hagerman, Sports Physiologist

They're aggressive, highly competitive, almost everything they think of and do is competitive...they are over-achievers, I think, in many cases; they have a real focus; they're tenacious; they're tough in the sense that they don't give-up very easily. But, I think that probably the one personality characteristic that impresses me the most is that they're not full of themselves; they're not egotistical for the most part...I'm impressed by their interest in other things besides rowing.
-- Fritz Hagerman, Sports Physiologist

During their college years the oarsmen put in terribly long hours often showing up at the boathouse at 6:00am for pre-class practices. Both physically and psychologically, they were separated from their classmates....In many ways they were like combat veterans coming back from a small, bitter, and distant war, able to talk only to other veterans.
-- David Halberstam from "The Amateurs"

The successful sculler thinks whole, integrated, and connected.
-- James C. (Jimmy) Joy, athlete, sculler, rower, coach

Easy speed.
-- James C. (Jimmy) Joy, athlete, sculler, rower, coach

The art of building wooden shells makes them beautiful while the science makes them fast.
-- Graeme King

No matter what hurts at the beginning, by the end of the race something else will hurt worse.
-- Bob O'Connor

In rowing I found a sport that demanded some skill, granted, but placed a much higher premium on plain hard work and persistence.
-- Harry Parker, Penn Lightweight Crew (1953 - 1954); Penn Heavyweight Crew (1954 - 1957); Harvard Freshmen Heavyweight Crew Coach (1961 - 1963); Harvard Varsity Heavyweight Crew Coach (1963 - 2013)

What's unique about [rowing] is this utter dependence on one another - no one guy can make the boat go faster by himself; on-the-other-hand, one guy can slow it down a lot. So [rowers] really do learn to trust one another and depend on one another in a pretty unique way.
-- Harry Parker, Penn Lightweight Crew (1953 - 1954); Penn Heavyweight Crew (1954 - 1957); Harvard Freshmen Heavyweight Crew Coach (1961 - 1963); Harvard Varsity Heavyweight Crew Coach (1963 - 2013)

Because [rowing] is 99.9% percent amateur activity and because there's very, very little personal recognition or publicity it certainly takes people who are satisfied with the effort itself - with the rewards of doing it.
-- Harry Parker, Penn Lightweight Crew (1953 - 1954); Penn Heavyweight Crew (1954 - 1957); Harvard Freshmen Heavyweight Crew Coach (1961 - 1963); Harvard Varsity Heavyweight Crew Coach (1963 - 2013)

Eight hearts must beat as one in an eight oared shell or you don't have a crew!
-- George Yeoman Pocock (1891-1976), leading designer and builder of racing shells in the 20th Century

It's a great art, is rowing. It's the finest art there is. It's a symphony of motion. And when you’re rowing well, why it's nearing perfection. And when you near perfection, you're touching the Divine. It touches the you of yous. Which is your soul.
-- George Yeoman Pocock (1891-1976), leading designer and builder of racing shells in the 20th Century

Harmony, balance, and rhythm. They're the three things that stay with you your whole life. Without them civilization is out of whack. And that's why an oarsman, when he goes out in life, he can fight it, he can handle life. That's what he gets from rowing.
-- George Yeoman Pocock (1891-1976), leading designer and builder of racing shells in the 20th Century

On race day, there's tremendous anxiety. Leading up to the stake boat, I distinctly remember saying to myself, 'I can't wait till this is over.'
-- Frank Shields, Penn 1963

Think of aerobics plus weight lifting minus the music or camaraderie. Combine unalloyed endurance with straightforward strength and demand poise, timing, and practiced form as well. Think of pure pain: that's the ergometer.
-- Barry Strauss from "Rowing Against the Current"

There is a place where cerebral and corporeal meet -- they call it rowing.
-- Barry Strauss from "Rowing Against the Current"

Anyone who has not rowed in a really close boat race cannot comprehend the level of pain.
-- Dan Topolski from "TRUE BLUE, The Oxford Boat Race Mutiny"

Nurture your mind with great thoughts; to believe in the Heroic makes Heroes.
-- Christopher L. (Kit) Vallhonrat, USNA 1993, quoting Disreali (emphasis added is Kit's)

Be one with the boat!
-- Jon Eric VanAmringe, Yale 1970, Navy Lightweight Crew Head Coach 1973-1976

Long and strong!
-- Jon Eric VanAmringe, Yale 1970, Navy Lightweight Crew Head Coach 1973-1976

Don't worry guys -- you'll pass out before you die.
-- Jon Eric VanAmringe, Yale 1970, Navy Lightweight Crew Head Coach 1973-1976

Five hundred meters to go!
-- Jon Eric VanAmringe, Yale 1970, Navy Lightweight Crew Head Coach 1973-1976

Rowing is the kind of sport that seems to really resonate with certain individuals at a very deep level and it gets to be like A Calling.
-- David H. Vogel, Yale Lightweight Crew (1967 - 1971); Yale Varsity Lightweight Crew Coach (1972 - 1989); Yale Varsity Heavyweight Crew Coach (1989 - 2003)

There's something very compelling about a sport where when all is said and done your sheer willpower to push harder than the other team is what ultimately decides the closest of the contests.
-- David H. Vogel, Yale Lightweight Crew (1967 - 1971); Yale Varsity Lightweight Crew Coach (1972 - 1989); Yale Varsity Heavyweight Crew Coach (1989 - 2003)

One of the old coaches put it that long after people have lost their fascination with games rowing would still be around because it's very visceral; it's simply, 'Are you willing to push yourself closer to death than the next guy just for the sheer ability to say that you won.'
-- David H. Vogel, Yale Lightweight Crew (1967 - 1971); Yale Varsity Lightweight Crew Coach (1972 - 1989); Yale Varsity Heavyweight Crew Coach (1989 - 2003)

It's not till the end of a race when rowers really show how much physiological stress they're under because typically at the end of any race...you'll see oarsmen collapsing over their oars and gasping for breath...and I think that's a little hard to understand even when you're up close on a close-up shot from a television camera because two strokes before this guy was just going as hard as he could - he didn't look like he was in that much trouble - I guess you just can't see willpower on television.
-- David H. Vogel, Yale Lightweight Crew (1967 - 1971); Yale Varsity Lightweight Crew Coach (1972 - 1989); Yale Varsity Heavyweight Crew Coach (1989 - 2003)

I don't see the value in changing the sport of rowing to meet modern ideas and modern ethics in sport because I see that much of what is modern about sport is not particularly admirable. If crew were to change its fundamental core then there would be no reason for it to survive in this age.
-- David H. Vogel, Yale Lightweight Crew (1967 - 1971); Yale Varsity Lightweight Crew Coach (1972 - 1989); Yale Varsity Heavyweight Crew Coach (1989 - 2003)

It's a sport that takes a strong back and a weak mind.
-- Clarence Lee Walker, coxswain, Undine Barge Club (Philadelphia), ca. 1940s, a tongue-in-cheek remark he often made to his son, Lee Walker, Jr. (USNA 1957), as they boated from East Falls to downtown Philadelphia while watching rowers and scullers on the Schuylkill River

Pain is weakness leaving your body.
-- A United States Marine

Pain is good -- extreme pain is extremely good!
-- A United States Navy SEAL