Rowing Quotes

This is the most comprehensive collection of rowing quotes I know of. Submit more if yours is not listed !

"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

"Our wake... your funeral." -- Racing Shirt Slogan

"Rowing is the only sport that originated as a form of capital punishment." -- Old Rowing Truism

"Rowing: a competitive sport of boats that are narrow." -- Great Soviet Encyclopaedia

"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

"If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on
change, you will get results." -- Jack Dixon

"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 week. As time went on, that very discipline influenced other dimensions of my life." -- Frank Shields, Penn. '63

"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." -- Nietzsche

"The ergometer simulates the physical demands of rowing, packaging the pains with none of the amenities that make it worthwhile ..." -- from Kiesling's The Shell Game

"Another boat, a straight-four, four sweep oarsmen without a coxswain, raced through our flotilla. I looked at them as they jetted past, and I quickly looked again. This boat appeared to be manned by four skeletons. Their cheek bones stood out like knots, their ribs were clearly defined as if they were painted on.  Every leg and arm muscle showed as taut as steel cabling. Four pairs of deep-set eyes peered at us, conveying 'the look.' The four men who were rowing that shell were a special breed of oarsmen known as 'lightweights'..." -- Assault On Lake Casitas, Brad Alan Lewis

"On race day, there's tremendous anxiety. Leading up to the stake boat, I distinctly remember saying to myself, `I can't wait 'till this is over'." -- Frank Shields, Penn. '63

"A race is not won in the water. (referring to the recovery as the most important part of the stroke) A race is not won on race day, instead a race is to show what you have accomplished in practice." -- Unknown

"Smiling, sincere, incorruptible - His body disciplined and limber. A man who had become what he could, And was what he was - Ready at any moment to gather everything into one simple sacrifice." -- Dag Hammarskjöld

"Rowing is a sport for dreamers. As long as you put in the work, you can own the
dream." -- Jim Dietz

"One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield." -- Ulysses, Alfred, Lord Tennyson

It's a great art, is rowing. It's the finest art there is. It's a symphony of motion. And when you're rowing well Why it's nearing perfection- And when you reach perfection You're touching the divine. It touches the you of you's Which is your soul. -- George Pocock

"No matter how well you know the course, no matter how well you may have done in a given race in the past, you never know for certain what lies ahead on the day you stand at the starting line waiting to test yourself once again. If you did know, it would not be a test; and there would be no reason for being there." --Dan Baglione

No matter what hurts at the beginning, by the end of the race something else will hurt worse." -- Bob O'Connor

"To dream anything you want to dream. That is the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do. That is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself to test your limits. That is the courage to succeed." -- Bernard Edmonds

"Winning isnt everything ... its important to really humiliate your opponent." -- Unknown

"The prizes in life come to those who persevere despite set-backs and disappointments." -- Bryce Courtney

"Perhaps I should have taken my sport and profession in a more relaxed way, but I cannot. I have tried many times. Either I do the maximum, which is stressful and not always pleasant, or I don't do it. I have to feel I am fulfilling my goals and exploiting my potential. To feel at peace with myself, I have to give the maximum, not only for me but also for the people in the team. Sometimes I get results, sometimes it goes wrong but I always know I have tried my best and couldn't do better." -- Ayrton Senna

"Oderint, dum metuant (Let them hate, so long as they fear.)" -- Accius

"Races are won by those who refuse to be beaten." -- Unknown

"It is the very embodiment of youth in all its grace and vigour, when blades flash and dip as one, and she leaps and runs like a wild thing, and leaps to run again, with the gurgle and swish of the water beneath us, with the rythmic thud of the oars, making music to the ear, then forgotten are the weeks of drudgery and the sweat in our eyes." -- Canon WPF Morris

"It is the most important thing to get to the Final and with this race I reached my goal...I don't think of the other competitors when rowing, I keep my eyes in my own boat and follow my own tactic...I wanted to save my strength for the Final." -- Xeno Müller (SUI)

"Even ordinary effort over time yields extraordinary results." -- Unknown

"The memories of a person in old age
are the responsibility of that person in youth." -- Unknown

"You will either be making things better in the world,
or you will be making yourself a better person." -- Unknown

"Without Struggle, we would never be forced to exceed our limits, to stretch ourselves, to achieve our potential. We would never be forced to search for the best within ourselves-and find it. Without Struggle, we would never become the kind of people who can make our wishes come true." -- taken from The Magic Lamp.

"Winning medals is good; racing is better; loving the sport is best." -- Unknown

"It's a frustrating machine, because it just site there impassively while you beat yourself to death on it."  -- Frank Lomax, former Princeton rower

"Victory only comes from great suffering. Christ suffered and was glorified. You will suffer, this machine and I will make sure of that, but it it's the only true path to immortality." -- Dale Hurley LT(retired) USN, USNA lightweight coach, 5 time National Team member, Silver medalist at Worlds.

"In the early months of training you're thinking 'What the hell is all this for?'  Because the race is so far off.  There's so much tedium and discipline and brutal effort to hammer through.   You have to resist the subconsious desire to put an end to all this self-inflicted hardship.  But as the days pass and you feel yourself getting stronger, you begin to live for the next day.  You punish yourself if with a will in training, because you know you're facing a race that will suspend your life.  Somewhere in the race, you will find out what it is you've been working for.  And your asking big questions of your body, and when the right answers are coming back, it's a feeling you know you will never forget."  -- Dan Topolski, Adapted from TRUE BLUE, The Oxford Boat Race Mutiny

"Be filled with the will to win.  Take what belongs to you.  Do NOT be denied." -- from Michael Suarez to Donald MacDonald before the 1987 Boat Race.

"...well this US eight, with all its material occupying every seat just would not go fast.  They rowed their hearts out but it never started to sing through the water.  And no one ever found out why.  The answer to this is slightly mystical because the sum of a crew is greater than its parts.  Those eight heavyweights had not time to develop the bond, the sacred trust, that can make a racing eight fly." -- Dan Topolski, TRUE BLUE, The Oxford Boat Race Mutiny

"In accordance with the University Boat Race Charter, I, Donald MacDonald hereby challenge you, Stephen Peel, to select nine good men and true from the University of Cambridge to row against nine good men and true from the University of Oxford over a four and one quarter miles on the River Thames, London, from the University Boat Race Stone in Putney to Mortlake, on the championship course." -- Traditional (Cambridge vs Oxford) Boat Race challenge, 1987

"[He] would drive his sculling boat through mile after mile, in a silent brutal programe of conditioning - he would work all alone, at first light, punishing himself without mercy.  His was the private dignity of the lone athlete, with a grim purpose, fighting a solitary war with himself, toward a goal only he can see."  -- Dan Topolski

"Anyone who has not rowed in a really close boatrace cannot comprehend the level of pain."  -- Dan Topolski

"I watched them carefully, as always, searching for a sign of mental weakness.  But there was none.  Every man was coping well with the hardship, each one of them locked into his task.  But it is one thing to practice, and quite another to race.  And the trouble is, you never know who, on the day, will find it within his soul to give more than he has ever given before.  It takes a kind of madness to compete like that, because of the will power and the ego, and his loyalty.  And while some men have it, others have yet to find it.  And a coach can only use his best judgement as to who those men will be." -- Dan Topolski

"The driving effort is carefully quantified in the psyche of every practicing oarsman.  Half-power is like walking up a flight of stairs; three-quarters power is the same as a steady jog up those stairs; full-power is the equivalent of running to the top of Mt. Whitney.  Then comes race-power.  This is a special category, reserved for the ultimate in physical expression.  At the completion of the final stroke of a close race, an oarsman should collapse over his oar, having spent every possible ounce of energy.  Fainting from exhaustion at the finish line, although rarely seen, is greatly respected among competitors." -- Assault On Lake Casitas, Brad Alan Lewis

"Rowing is such a fine sport.   Everyone goes backward, and the leader can see his opponents as they struggle in vain." -- Assault On Lake Casitas, Brad Alan Lewis

"Rowing is an absurdly simple sport.  I can easily guide a beginner throught the right technical motions.   The difficulty arises when the beginner attempts to repeat those motions on a bumpy race course, at 40 strokes a minute, with his heart rate zooming, and an opponent charging up his stern." -- Assault On Lake Casitas, Brad Alan Lewis

"You must approach each test with the seriousness and passion that you would use to prepare to challenge your death.   You must prepare--not to die-- but to battle for your life in each moment with every faculty and power available to you."  -- Mike Livingston

"You must purge yourself of all thoughts of self-importance, and all inclination to judge either yourself or others.  You must go to power with humility and deep respect." -- Mike Livingston

"You must assume full responsibility for choosing to pursue power.  Know that you alone have chosen to be tested, and then proceed without doubt, remorse, or blame.  You alone are responsible."  -- Mike Livingston

"Good Day.  We are privileged to live another day in this magnificent world.  Today you will be tested." -- Mike Livingston

"A man goes through many changes in 2000 meters.  Some are not very pretty.  Some make you hate yourself.   Some make you wonder if you've been rowing for only three or four days.  To avoid that fate, we prepared for all possibilities.  If a meteor landed 10 feet off our stern, we would not blink.  [We] Would be aware, yet impassive, to the outside world.  Every ounce of energy would be funneled into the water, and not wasted by looking around, worrying about opponents, wondering about things that didn't concern our primary goal--to be the first across the finish line."  -- Assault On Lake Casitas, Brad Alan Lewis

"Without a doubt, the next few minutes would be the most hellishly exciting in my life.  Grinding pain and killer fatigue waited just beyond the word, "Partez."  But I tried to ignore those prespects, and concentrate on the priceless feelings that also awaited.   I thought about the perfect strokes we would take, and about the merciless surge of power we would unleash in the last 500 meters."  -- Assault On Lake Casitas, Brad Alan Lewis

"I slapped my face two or three times with both hands, as hard as possible.  The slapping hurt.  It snapped me to attention.  My adrenaline started flowing... the Yugoslavs, sitting in the next lane stared at me in disbelief.  The harsh slapping made me angry--exactly what I wanted.  I did my best work when I was angry." -- Assault On Lake Casitas, Brad Alan Lewis

"MCP, maximum controled pressure.  No tomorrow, no waiting, nothing beyond the moment.  We seek the perfect balance--total abandon on the drive, total control on the recovery." -- Assault On Lake Casitas, Brad Alan Lewis

"I felt okay for the first 45 seconds, and then my vision grew fussy.  My lungs felt like deflated balloons.   I would have sucked oxygen through my ears, if that were possible.  I was experiencing oxygen debt, or perhaps better stated, oxygen death." -- Assault On Lake Casitas, Brad Alan Lewis

"Pain?  Yes, of course.  Racing without pain is not racing.  But the pleasure of being ahead outweighed the pain a million times over.  To hell with the pain.  What's six minutes of pain compared to the pain they're going to feel for the next six months or six decades.  You never forget your wins and losses in this sport.  YOU NEVER FORGET."  -- Assault On Lake Casitas, Brad Alan Lewis

"Nobody Beats Us!   served as our main trigger... We practiced using trigger words, private verbal keys, which unlocked certain thoughts for us.  We had a half-dozen phrases--some dealt with maintaining our technique, two dealt with maintaining our technique, two dealt with our stroke rating.  The most powerful phrase was 'Nobody Beats Us!'   According to our plan, when I said these words to Paul toward the end of the race, we would immediately shift into our final sprint, rowing as high and hard as possible, straight through, until we crossed the finish line." -- Assault On Lake Casitas, Brad Alan Lewis

"NOBODY BEATS US!" -- Assault On Lake Casitas, Brad Alan Lewis

"DROP THE HAMMER!" -- Saint Joseph's University race trigger

"FLEX!" -- National Team race trigger

"All Together" -- Vesper Boat Club motto

"Higher, Faster, Longer." -- Olympic motto

"In team sports the athletes were bonded by each other, there was an immense peer pressure to keep going.   One dared not miss a practice for fear of letting his teammates down.  Every time an athlete thought of getting back into bed in the morning he knew he would have to face the anger of his closest friends.  But the sculler had to find motivation entirely within himself.  No one else cared." -- David Halberstam, The Amateurs

"You have to force yourself to stay with rowing.  If you put the first of your contact lenses in your eye, that is almost a sure guarantee that you won't go back to sleep.  If you can get up and past the bed, then you will reach the kitchen.  If you can reach the kitchen you can reach the front door.  If you reach the front door, you will reach the car, and if you reach the car, you can reach the boathouse.  Each step leads to the next one.  You keep pushing yourself so that you will no quit. "  -- Tiff Wood

"You have to know how to listen to your body, because there is a part of you that always wants to quit and go back to sleep, and there is also a part of your body which on occasion is worn out and wants and needs rest, and then you have to listen." -- Tiff Wood

"If you want to know why you didn't make a boat -- I'll tell you.  You're just out there hammering the water.   You're killing fish, not rowing."  -- Jim Dietz

"During their college years the oarsmen put in terrbily long hours, often showing up at the boathouse at 6:00am for preclass practices.  Both physically and psychologically, they were separated from their classmates.  Events that seemed earth-shattering to them-- for example, who  was demoted  from the varsity to the junior varsity -- went almost unnoticed by the rest of the students.  In many ways they were like combat veterans coming back from a small, bitter and distant war, able to talk only to other veterans. " -- David Halberstam, The Amateurs

"Crew was always imperfect;  no matter how good your crew, you were bound to lose, if not a race, then the ephemeral feeling of swing, when a boat was moving perfectly.  Because currents, tides and winds made times largely meaningless, it was a sport in which records had no value.  A runner might know that he had bettered a time of those who went before him.   The oarsmen in a boat that had won every race would always wonder if his boat was better than one that was comparably victorious six years earlier.  The only clue that his boat was probably faster came from other sports, for swimmers and runners were systematically improving on the records set by their predecessors.  But there was no empirical evidence.  Therefore, humility became part of the code:  You did not boast of what you would do or had done, nor did you embarrass a loser.  Because your adversaries had subjected themselves to virtually the same regimen that you did, you respected them as much as you respected yourself." -- David Halberstam, The Amateurs

"Rowing, particularly sculling, inflicts on the individual in every race a level of pain associated with few other sports.  There was certainly pain in football during a head-on collision, pain in other sports on the occasion of a serious injury.  That was more the threat of pain;  in rowing there was the absolute guarantee of it every time." -- David Halberstam, The Amateurs

"Physically, rowing was remarkable resistant to the camera... the camera liked power exhibited more openly, and the power of the oarsmen [is] exhibited in far too controlled a setting.   Besides, the camera liked to focus on individuals, and except for the single scull, crew was sport without faces." -- David Halberstam, The Amateurs

"Few sports has as great a disparity between the time committed in practice and time actually spent in game or race conditions." -- David Halberstam, The Amateurs

"Although it takes a long warm-up for an eight to swing, on an erg such subtleties don't matter.   For me the sound alone raised my pulse to 120.  Tying my feet into the stretchers increased it to 180.  My maximum pulse was 200.  I didn't need a warmup.  I needed a sedative."  -- Stephen Kiesling, The Shell Game

"[Trading] With the French one had to be especially careful.  French oarswomen were known to take men aside, point to whatever they wanted, and then peel off their own shirts.  It took great presence of mind to bargain with a half-naked Frenchwoman." -- Stephen Kiesling, The Shell Game

"Imagine a gigantic wheel like the waterwheel at a millhouse, that takes up to eight people to keep it moving.  Each inserts his heavy stick at just the right moment into the spokes of the wheel and pulls.  If the timing of the catch of the stick in the spokes is not perfect, the wheel does not achieve its potential speed.  If the timing of the release from the spokes is off, a stick may be caught in the spokes, transferring the force of the wheel through the stick into the belly of the hapless attendant-- a graphic demonstration of what happens to an oarsman who fails to release his oar on time.   This process, which has been known to catapult oarsmen into the river, is called "catching a crab." -- Stephen Kiesling, The Shell Game

"For oarsmen, the sensation is different.  While running, swimming or even participating in team sports one performs to his own limits, limits set by the individual conditioning and determination.  When exhausted, the individual decides to endure, change pace, walk or collapse.  As part of an eight, however, one performs at the level of the crew.   When every part of each body says stop, inexplicably the boat still continues.   Individual limitations reassert themselves only when the race is over;  only then is the body released from the tyranny of the shell and allowed to vomit, lose consciousness or gracefully expire." -- Stephen Kiesling, The Shell Game

"Hundreds of feet above us, cars whisked by, oblivious to our drama.  Up there were the shortcuts, the excuses, the world of infinite possibilities separating man and his potential.  We had four miles and the best competition in the nation.  We linked hands in the boat and committed ourselves to each other." -- Stephen Kiesling, The Shell Game

"Being in shape was not my goal.  My body was a tool to test the capabilities of my will."  -- Stephen Kiesling, The Shell Game

"Once one is beyond a certain level of commitment to the sport, life begins to seem an allegory of rowing rather than rowing an allegory of life." -- Stephen Kiesling, The Shell Game

"Once one has attained a high level of success at any pursuit and especially an unorthodox pursuit like rowing, one develops a number of generally self-congratulatory half-truths to explain how it happened that he ascended to that particular pinnacle.  Often because original motivations don't seem to have much in common with the eventual success, the real and rationalized motivations are difficult to separate."  -- Stephen Kiesling, The Shell Game

"For two months after Christmas vacation we limped around campus with muscles too tigh and sore to walk properly, yet we had no good idea of our goal.  Without knowing what a real race was like, I couldn't judge whether it was worth all the preparation, but having put in so much time already, how could we back out?  Quite a few Freshman did manage to back out.   After Christmas several, when freed from faily practice, decided that they liked not feeling tired all the time.  Most of them vanished without a word." -- Stephen Kiesling, The Shell Game

"Those of us who stayed were younger, more tractable.  Less sure of ourselves socially and intellectually, we gave ourselves to the sport with little idea of what we could give or receive."  -- Stephen Kiesling, The Shell Game

"As a competitor, winner or loser, one crosses the line into limbo.  The adrenaline is gone, the anticipation is gone.  The verdict is either comforting or devestating but it neithers returns the exhilaration of the race nor helps directly to win the next.  Maybe all that matters is that there is a next." -- Stephen Kiesling, The Shell Game

"That morning each of us found a breaking point.  Not only a physical barrier, but a point where determination, stamina and duty clashed and were overcome not so much by pain but by absurdity." -- Stephen Kiesling, The Shell Game

"Harry took him out for a few practices in Cambridge and then told him to try again the next year, but because Twig had driven three thousand miles, Harry led him down to the Harvard rowing tanks to show him some technical points to work on back in Seattle.  Twig took a seat in the vacant tank room and started to row.  After twenty minutes Harry left to coach the next practice.  Several hours later, when Harry was in his office finishing up, an oarsman came to the door.  Someone, he told Harry, was rowing in the tanks and wanted to know if he could stop.  No one is sure how long Twig rowed that day, but if he had been on a straight course, he might have made it back to Wyoming.  Harry told him to show up for practice the next morning." -- Stephen Kiesling, The Shell Game

"Important to the execution of such tasks as rowing and long-distance running is a high level of determination, the ability to ignore pain and other personality traits denoting persistence and durability.  It is usually found that most individuals participating in these types of activities are introverted.  They are usually stable emotionally and, in addition, exhibit sound phsiological characteristics and good self-control."   -- Vanek and Cratty, Psychology and the Superior Athlete

SI Specific Quotes:

"Flex ten, baby."--Nathan Heyka '97, answering the unspoken question as the Heavy 8 walked through another crew one fine morning on the Crooked River. (submited by Pete Brereton'97)

"No Regrets" -- Pete Manias (submitted by Tony Krncevic'93)

"The will of one can overcome the strength of many" -- Peter Ross '99

"The GLORY is in the TEAM, NOT the INDIVIDUAL." -- Sean Sullivan'96

"I can teach 90% of the rowing stroke in ten minutes.  The other 10% will require a lifetime of effort to learn."  -- Coach Robert Valerian

"Rowing ripped my hands creating callouses I had never believed possible.  Eventually my hands hardened and my skin grew thick with experience.  My senior year I ordered my class ring.   Upon graduation my hands finally parted with the oarhandle and the swelling in my hands gradually subsided, leaving a ring I could effortlessly spin on my index finger as a testiment to the rowing experience."  -- Brad DeGrandis '91

"KILL THE KING!" -- Ignatius Crew race trigger [Pete Manias]

"I remember feeling bad for the crews we rowed against. I knew how hard we had trained. I knew before they did, they would lose this race." -- Bob Valerian, Georgetown University Vail Champion

"Only attempt to change those who are willing to improve." -- Coach Brad DeGrandis

"I don't row for f***ing medals." -- Mike Caril '96

"Why would anyone want to get up at the @#%-carck of dawn only to fill their bodies with pain? While being yelled at by some person with a God-type complex as you get splashed in the face with poluted water by the damn person in front of you, as you sit on your @#% going backwards of all ways. Only idiots would do such things!.... I'll see you at 5 in the morning."  -- Chris Brumleve '99

"Rowing is the name of the game, but it's not a game, so pull your ass off until you cross the finish line."  -- Coach DeGrandis (submitted by Michael Tamas'02)