How does college rowing recruiting work?
College men’s rowing is not an NCAA sport. Instead, the majority of varsity programs row in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) and club programs row in the American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA). For the most part, club programs only recruit on their own campus and through a summer rowing camp, if they host one. On the other hand, IRA varsity programs follow most current NCAA rules. If you plan to pursue varsity college rowing, you’ll have to stick to these recruiting rules.
What do college coaches look for in men’s rowing recruits?
When it comes to rowing recruits, coaches generally look at the following things in order of importance (give or take a slot):
- 2k erg times
- Club or high school experience
2k erg times are a dependable gauge of rowing potential and speed on the water, so rowing times are the first thing that college coaches usually review.
College coaches absolutely look for athletes with strong grades and test scores. A large portion of men’s rowing teams are located at colleges with high academic standards, often at private institutions near the East Coast. At some colleges, the coach won’t be able to do anything for a rowing recruit if he doesn’t meet the academic standards of the admissions office.
Athletes who rowed for an established high school or club team will likely work in conjunction with their high school or club coach to share a recommendation with college coaches. These athletes generally have a leg up in the rowing recruiting process because college coaches can expect a certain level of skill from them. However, rowing in college with no experience is still possible for athletic walk-ons.
As far as size goes, college coaches are always on the lookout for tall recruits because they see them as having more upside, as height allows rowers to have more length and leverage in their stroke. Weight is important for generating power, but rowers that are too heavy may slow a boat down.
It’s difficult for college coaches to get a complete assessment of technique from video, especially in bigger boats. Usually, coaches want to see rowers up close, preferably in smaller boats like fours, pairs or singles. For recruits that attend a college rowing camp where they will get seen firsthand, this could be more of a selling point, but many recruits will depend on the other categories to show their abilities.