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college rowing and height - am i just too short?

pianoforte308pianoforte308 Posts: 52Registered User Junior Member
edited December 2011 in Athletic Recruits
I really want to row in college, but I am only 5'5''. I am 140 lbs, but I simply cannot get past 137 so lightweight is not exactly an option. My top choice is the University of Pennsylvania.
I'm a junior, have a 7:36 erg time, been to the national championships twice, medalled at the club national championships, and have medalled in a couple of regattas in my 1x, including Head of the Schuylkill (i placed second in my single there). I also have a 2210 SAT and a 4.0. In addition, I was a semi-finalist in the World Piano Competition last year, and will participate again this summer.

Other than decreasing my erg score and doing well in regattas, is there anything I can do? Or is this just a lost cause. Do I have any chance of rowing at UPenn with my height??

(I'm a girl, btw)
Post edited by pianoforte308 on
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Replies to: college rowing and height - am i just too short?

  • fishymomfishymom Posts: 1,849Registered User Senior Member
    Unfortunately, most college coaches are looking for height. I suggest that you take a look at the rosters of schools that you might be interested in attending and see if they have any rowers that are under 5' 8". Penn doesn't list height on their roster, but most schools do. If there are no shorter rowers at the school, your chances are probably not good. Have you had any contact with college coaches? What sort of a response are you getting?
  • pianoforte308pianoforte308 Posts: 52Registered User Junior Member
    thanks for the response.
    I've just started contacting coaches, so it's hard to tell who is really interested. I know Penn doesn't list height, but I've looked at comparable programs (Columbia, Northeastern, etc.) and I've seen plenty of rowers who are 5'7'' and 5'6''. So maybe it's not completely hopeless?
  • eireanneireann Posts: 1,370Registered User Senior Member
    I say it's definitely not hopeless, especially given your erg score, which is really good. You need awesome technique, but if you can prove that you can move a boat, I think that's what will matter.
  • hey_palhey_pal Posts: 101Registered User Junior Member
    I'm 5'7'' and a few coaches had interest in me as a heavyweight rower (even though I'm LW). I've known lightweights who were 5'3'', which is pretty short, even for a light.

    7:37 is a respectable score for a HW, but I would try to get that as low as possible to make up for your lack in height. It's definitely not hopeless. One thing that I seriously overlooked before embarking on the recruiting journey was the program that you come from. The rowing world is VERY small, so if you don't have a credible coach (aka come from an established program that produces recruits), the coaches at colleges won't have a reason to believe the coach.

    One said, "I'm glad you rowed with ****** over the summer, because it's hard to take any coach's word. I mean, they could say every single one of their rowers is top notch, and that just isn't true."

    Look into successful summer club teams if the program you come from isn't particularly established. This was my own situation--made connections with two very successful Prep programs and both coaches wrote me a recommendation. I'm almost positive that without their support, I wouldn't be rowing where I am next year (GO TIGERS!)

    pm me with any more questions
  • fishymomfishymom Posts: 1,849Registered User Senior Member
    ^^^hey_pal is spot on with this! If you do not come from a well established high school or club program, and a coach with credibility, who has a track record of producing D1 athletes, then it is very important to train with a successful coach/club/program during the summer.

    My daughter was recruited for rowing and this was a major obstacle for her. She was a new rower, started January of her junior year, and her club was also new, with no recruited athletes. She had a strong athletic background, was a swimmer for 14 years, and fit the physical profile, tall and strong. But it was a lot harder for her because she did not have a strong program behind her. Even her erg score was a problem, her club does not erg, so we had to buy an erg for her to train on at home. The best decision we made was sending her to a summer program with a coach who was well known in the rowing community. It made a huge difference for my daughter and was instrumental in getting her signed with a D1 program.
  • mayhewmayhew Posts: 643Registered User Member
    There are D1 programs out there that have shorter rowers - I think Georgetown has someone is 5'4" (not a coxswain). I agree with the above advice to just get your erg score as low as you can and just do as well as you can in every way you are capable of to offset the height issue. If you can move a boat, and get a low erg score, you're doing everything you can! Also, you will be able to tell how interested certain coaches are (i.e. Penn) due to the sort of responses you get. As my daughter was told by a top coach, every coach is looking for something different: "some recruit on erg score, some recruit on height, and some recruit on personality" - they're all looking for something different while working on the common goal of putting together a strong recruit class. Good luck :)
  • hey_palhey_pal Posts: 101Registered User Junior Member
    ^^keep in mind that might have been a walk on. just sayin
  • mayhewmayhew Posts: 643Registered User Member
    ^^^hey_pal: you're right - didn't think of that!
  • beenthere2beenthere2 Posts: 444Registered User Member
    PM me.
    Some college coaches only go for BIG (make it huge) and tall, some coaches adjust for weight and look at how well you can move a boat --- which you obviously can. Those are the coaches you want to work with because they obviously know more about rowing :)
    Also, if you have medalled at nationals and the Schuylkill, you're in good shape.
  • livetorowlivetorow Posts: 8Registered User New Member
    Don't despair! I was recruited this past year, and I'll be rowing at Georgetown in the fall, I am a lightweight, but I'm still super short to be a lightweight, I'm only about 5'2. When I started rowing 6 years ago, my team forced me into coxing, and I hated it so I switched to rowing, and I have never NOT been in the V8+ since...being short is a detriment, but not impossible!
  • elileoelileo Posts: 98Registered User Junior Member
    Would you consider Williams? Several shorter rowers on their roster.
  • CORDIECORDIE Posts: 54Registered User Junior Member
    There is hope-coming from a 1982 national flyweight silver medalist. For young rowers, crews offer squads in novice 1 & 2 classes plus lightweight class. In the club nationals there is both lightweight & flyweight. I rowed 2nd novice at a weight of 132. The ivies have the most sophisticated rowing programs.
  • pianoforte308pianoforte308 Posts: 52Registered User Junior Member
    in case anyone is interested, i just got accepted into an ivy, where i was recruited to row. dreams really do come true :)
  • mayhewmayhew Posts: 643Registered User Member
    Bravo! Be sure to place yourself on the 2016 Recruited Athlete thread - Congratulations!
  • tallgirltallgirl Posts: 170Registered User Junior Member
    CONGRATS!!!! Were you recruited for the Open weight team or Lwt?
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