Row, Row, Row Your Boat – Junior Olivia Ross is part of a competitive rowing team

15min

What sport do you play and how long have you played it?
I row for the Indianapolis Rowing center, and I’ve been rowing for about two years.

How did you get started rowing?
I swam for a while, but I got sick of it. And with rowing, there’s a lot of scholarship money available for colleges.

How do you practice?
We just go out in the water and rowing really depends on the weather so if it’s too windy to go out we go on rowing machines, which are at the gym. They’re called ergometers.

Does the team have a varsity level?
Yep. There’s a varsity team and a novice team. And the novice is just your first year rowing and then you move up to varsity. And then there’s different b,oats within each level so you have A boats and B boats and stuff like that.

How do races work?
Well you row in either (groups of eight) or (groups of four), so it’s either with seven other girls or with three other girls. In the fall it’s longer races, so you do six kilometers, and in the spring it’s two kilometers. But spring season is the sport season.

What do you think are some downsides to rowing in Indiana?
Not a lot of people know about it, so it’s hard to get recognition, and it’s very expensive to row.

How do you think rowing could be easier or more convenient?
Probably if (practices) were closer to where I live, and if more people (rowed), because we don’t really have a big team.

What would you tell somebody who might be interested in taking up the sport?
You don’t really need to have any (past) skill or experience, and it’s really fun.

HENRY ZHU / PHOTO

Although a variety of sports are offered here at this school, junior Olivia Ross participates in competitive rowing—a sport partly unaffiliated with CHS—at the Indianapolis Rowing Center (IRC) as part of her extracurricular activities.
“No one really recognizes how hard it is or what it involves (because it’s an unaffiliated sport),” Ross said. “It’s completely different from kayaking or canoeing.”
Jackie Kleinhans, rowing coach at Indianapolis Rowing Center, said the IRC maintains a close relationship with the athletic department and the student body. However, Kleinhans said via email that the IRC does not receive financial support or varsity status from this school.
“(The lack of financial support or varsity status from CHS) is largely because rowing is not recognized by the IHSAA,” Kleinhans said. “IRC has considered approaching the IHSAA to promote rowing as a recognized sport. The reason we haven’t done this to date is because of the volume of participants. There are a great number of schools affiliated with the IHSAA, I think at least 500. About 25 of those 500 offer rowing.”
Consistent with the small number of IHSAA-affiliated schools that offer rowing, Ross is part of the small percentage of teens who row. According to a survey conducted by Rower’s Almanac/Boathouse Finder in 2008, just five percent of rowers in the United States are in the 13 to 18 age group.
Despite the program’s unaffiliated status with this school, Ross, who used to be a part of the swimming team, said she prefers rowing because of its increased teamwork and wider range of social connections.
“(Compared with swimming), rowing is similar in the fact that you do the same thing over and over again,” Ross said. “(However) rowing definitely involves more teamwork because you’re with seven or three other girls in a boat.”

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