Rowing into the rankings

A crew out on the Willamette River practicing over the summer.

Photo courtesy of Mahaila Bouman

A crew out on the Willamette River practicing over the summer.

Rowing, sometimes called crew, is a sport of racing boats using oars. The first modern rowing competitions can be traced back to Renaissance U.K., but its origins in the U.S. can be followed back to New England where rowing is more widely practiced and normalized. Across the country, here in Oregon, it is becoming more recognized especially on Oregon’s ample major rivers such as the Columbia and Willamette.

Cooper Jordan, senior, rows for Lake Oswego Community Rowing (LOCR). He has been rowing for the team since his freshman year and hopes to continue collegiately. In the spring of 1998, LOCR began offering its first rowing classes and has continued to ever since. 

“There’s a boathouse operated by LOCR that’s just on the banks of the Willamette River in downtown Lake Oswego,” Jordan said.  “Everyday we have practice. We go out on the river and take boats out…we row a decent amount of distance down the Willamette River everyday.” 

Rowing is a new and up and coming sport that is just starting to be recognized in Oregon. 

“It’s a sport mainly for legs, back, and shoulder muscle groups rather than arms which most people think,” Jordan said. “There’s a variety of boats you can be in, anything from a single to an eight person boat. You can have one or two sets of oars in sweeping or sculling.” 

Jordan’s team is currently ranked regionally and nationally after performing well at nationals and at the Head of the Charles. 

“Head of the Charles is a real who’s who run,” Jordan said. “We’ve seen teams from South Africa, France, all parts of the U.S., and Europe compete there. Our men’s varsity four did really well comparatively, I think.” 

A lot of the team has been around for a while and Jordan feels that being close has definitely boosted their efforts at races.

“They’ve found it to be a pretty tight knit community, because it’s not a thing that changes very much, attendance wise, which allows the guys to get comfortable and pretty strong rowing together because of the commitment,” Jordan said.

Something that is debated frequently about rowing is, is it exclusive and pretentious? 

“A lot of people have a view of it as like a very pretentious, East Coast sort of wealthy sport, which I think might be true in the Ivy League colleges,” Jordan said. “ But I don’t think that’s all that it needs to be. I think in our club, it doesn’t feel pretentious.”

Knowing that we live in a relatively wealthy community, Jordan believes that the idea of rowing being an affluent sport is no longer. 

“It’s very fun to get out to regattas and have that camaraderie even between people that you don’t know. I think it was once a pretentious sport but I don’t think it has stayed that way,” Jordan said. 

As far as Jordan knows, only a few of his peers are currently involved in rowing. Jordan is focused on creating a bigger community of rowers in our area. 

“It’s just one of those sports that people have like on the edge of their brains that isn’t really exercise, but I would encourage them to try it out because it is a largely transformative experience,” Jordan. “It is a sport that is defined by your relation with your teammates and how well you can build a sense of timing and a sense of synchronization with the people that you come to know.”