Crew Recruit Without Crew?

A few months ago, my daughter (class of 24) started using the family erg machine religiously, and she managed to get her 2k time into the 7:20 range. We did a little research (NCSA website) and for her weight class (<130 lbs), her numbers are recruitable at top D1 programs. We have decided to enroll her in a club program starting this fall, but we are wondering if it is too late for her to be recruited to a top university/how her lack of experience will negatively impact her.

She learns very quickly and will hopefully get ahold of stroke technique/good crew practices early into the season. We conversed with the high school coach, and he is willing to put my daughter into the varsity boat given that she did club crew in the fall. The high school program is amazing at her high school and there are multiple girls each year that get recruited to/end up rowing for Yale, Stanford, MIT, etc.

Any advice for my daughter?

Parent of Ivy rower here - sounds like what you are talking about is women’s lightweight rowing. WLW is offered at only a small amount of schools - I think around 6-8 total? It is quite competitive with all the schools having similar high academic standards - ie: WLW recruits all looking at the same handful of programs.

Articles appear every year in different university papers about the potential for unhealthy weight issue and/or rowers being moved off the team due to not being able to maintain weight or developing eating issues. With that said, if this is your daughter’s true body type - it is great for “smaller” athletes to be involved in this wonderful sport.

The National Championships were this weekend (IRA) and can be viewed on YouTube for your daughter to get an idea of the teams on the water. WLW is not part of the NCAA and your daughter must be able to keep to a weight of 130 and remain healthy.

While her ERG score is excellent on your home machine - is she interested in working out 6 days a week year round and balance with her classes ? Will she like being on the water rain or shine, hot and cold, is she coachable, is she a good team mate? Is this her passion?

These are all things she will get a better feeling for when she participates in the Fall club program and her HS Spring program - can she participate in a summer camp now? Recruiting “looks” seems to start more seriously at the Fall of Jr year races (HOC) and go into the Youth Nationals (May of jr year) - so as a HS class of 2024 - imo, she is not late. Things start to really move mid-summer/Fall of senior year - as rowers change, injuries happen and late bloomers begin to shine.

Sounds like your HS has a strong track record with these programs and the HS coach should be helpful and be able to guide you. My advice is she has her academics planned out, a strong ACT/SAT done soon and keeps on the ERG besides trying for even a 1-2 week summer program.

Depending on her size - there are many more opportunities in open weight and D3 - with Wellesley just winning D3 followed by Bates - if rowing in college is a goal.


Great info from coffeeeat!

Here are the women’s lwt programs at D1 schools (but as noted above lwt is not an NCAA sport): Princeton, Georgetown, Harvard/Radcliffe, Stanford, Wisconsin, BU, and MIT. Here are the recent rankings (click on LWT tab): Women's Varsity Eight (6/1/2022) |

Some schools have also raced lwt boats in the past, like Bucknell, hopefully your D’s HS coach is up to speed where that might be the case, but I have no idea if these schools ‘recruit’ lw rowers. As coffeeat also noted, D3 schools could offer some attractive options. Good luck.

ETA: How tall is your D?


Amazing information! Thank you @coffeeat3!

For some reason, I was under the assumption that collegiate crew operated similarly to wrestling (different weight classes equating to different boats), so thank you for clarifying!

She is about 5’ 8" to answer your question.

Many wrestlers have unhealthy behaviors as they try to make weight. Everyone wants to avoid incenting women to make a lower weight to row in a certain boat. That’s why women’s lwt crew is such a small, niche sport that’s not NCAA affiliated. Lightweight boats are being phased out at the youth level.


This is a key point about your D’s body type. And because she is relatively new to the sport you actually might not know the answer yet. I expect she’s on a strength training program this summer, which may lead her to gain weight.

Hypothetically speaking say that puts her at 140 lbs. At 5’ 8”, 140 lbs she is on the small side for the top programs’ non-lwt teams. But some coaches may still consider her if her erg times remain low and her club/HS boats do well in competition. Time will tell. Coaches will tell her.

She is not too late to be recruited, but you will just have to see how competition goes. Make sure to get film to send to coaches. Once she has some results, begin reaching out to coaches, don’t wait for them to come to her. It sounds like the HS coach knows recruiting, which is a huge plus.

Beyond the athletics, she should take an SAT/ACT sooner rather than later and obviously do well academically in rigorous classes.