"Weightless in water, swift as the wind,
Subtle of purpose - a feather blown -
I go with my oarsmen where they will,
My beautiful body and theirs all one.
- Mark Van Doren
"To follow the drops
sliding from a lifting oar,
Head up, while the rower
breathes, and the small
- Theodore Roethke (The Shape of the Fire)
"Pull they oar, all hands, pull they oar,
till thou be stiff and red and sore..."
- Dr. Sydney Dangell
"You linger to see his back, and the back of his neck and shoulder-side...
The Bending forward and backward of the rowers..."
- Walt Whitman, "I Sing the Body Electric"
I met a solid rowing friend and asked about the Race.
"How fared it with the wind," I said, "when stroke increased the pace?
You swung it forward mightily, you heaved it greatly back.
Your muscles rose in knotted lumps, I almost heard the crack.
And while we roared and rattled too, you eyes were fixed like glue.
What thought went flying through your mind, how fared it, Five, with you?"
But Five answered solemnly, "I heard them fire a gun. No other mortal thing I heard until the Race was done."
- R.C. Lehman
"Faintly as tolls the evening chime,
Our voices keep tune and our oars keep time.
- Thomas Moore
"And all the way, to guide their chime,
With falling oars they kept their time.
- Andrew Marvell
"So we beat on, boats against the current,
borne back ceaselessly into the past.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)
"Internally, you experience rowing as a graphic microcosm of life - solitude, learning, work, rest, nourishment, sharing and ultimately challenge."
- Allen Rosenberg
"Rowing is more than a fast boat on race day. It's a complementary experience to a young man's intellectual development...Rowing, like success, is a journey, not a destination. I tell my oarsmen to have fun, learn and, most of all, grow as individuals. The wins, the losses will take care of themselves."
- Rick Clother, Rowing Coach USNA
"Rowing is not like baseball, where you can arrive late, grab your glove and run onto the field. For me, it was the discipline of having to be at a given place at a given time, sometimes seven days a week. As time went on, that very discipline influenced other dimensions of my life."
- Frank Shields, Penn. '63
"On race day, there's tremendous anxiety. Leading up to the stake boat, I distinctly remember saying to myself, 'I can wait 'till this is over.'"
- Frank Shields
"In rowing as in life, there are competitors and there are racers. The competitor works hard and rows to his limit. The racer does not think of limits, only the race."
- Jim Dietz, Rowing Coach, USCGA
"The most significant message I can convey to the rowing athlete is: Just row the race. Think, about the process. Don't dwell on the result until it's history."
- Larry Gluckman, Varsity Heavyweight Coach, Princeton
"Rowing is a sport for dreamers. As long as you put in the work, you can own the dream. When the work stops, the dream disappears."
- Jim Dietz, Rowing Coach, USCGA
"As a coxswain, I concentrated most on knowing the people in my boat - why they were rowing, why they came down to the boathouse, what made them tick. You have to know whether someone's rowing because they love their mother and hate their father. They're not sure they are proud of themselves; they want to be proud. Determine some of that and you can tap the strongest parts of those individuals. Being able to inspire someone, unexpected and in a way new and fresh to them, is what made coxing special for me."
Devin Mahoney, Coxswain, Varsity Heavyweight Eight, Harvard '86
Not everybody wins, and certainly not everybody wins all the time. But once you get into your boat and push off, tie into your shoes and bootstretchers, then "lean on the oars," you have indeed won far more than those who have never tried.
Flatter me, and I may not believe you
Criticize me, and I may not like you
Ignore me, and I may not forgive you
Encourage me, and I may not foregt you.
- William Arthur Ward
"When one rows it is not the rowing which moves the ship: rowing is only a magical ceremony by means of which one compels a demon to move the ship."
"When we gather for the happiest week in all the year, it is the brotherhood of rowing, the comradeship of the oar that we recall, when eight men who have trained until they have become a single drive, a single thrust of forward-flashing wrists, face suddenly the crisis towards which that selfless toil has led them, and know that every link in all that pulsing chain of flesh and blood rings true. For us, there are no centuries or duck's eggs, no goals or gallery kicks, no individual distinctions where the crew are all in all. The rattle of the riggers of the finish, the music of the tide beneath her body as she shot between the strokes, the grim yet heartening sound of splendid and unbroken strength when all eight blades crashed in together - these are the things that no one who has heard and felt them will ever forget. Some delirium. Some tremens. Some kaleidoscope."
- Sir Theodore Cook