row2k Features
Junior Lightweight Rowing: Solutions Will Not Come Easy
January 29, 2018

Just hours after USRowing's Board of Directors voted to approve a proposal to increase the weight limit for lightweight junior boys from 150 to 160, scholastic and club coaches and administrators across the country became alarmed.

John Musial, a USRowing and FISA referee who also sits on the board of the Scholastic Rowing Association of America, one of the largest scholastic rowing organizations in the country, hadn't yet boarded his flight back to Philadelphia from Tampa, where USRowing held its annual convention and where the vote had taken place, before his phone was lighting up with messages.

"I caught wind that there was a major problem with all of this Sunday morning in the Tampa airport waiting to fly home from the convention," said Musial. "I sat down to go through my email, and I already had emails in my box from people who had heard about the weight change.

"By the time I got back to Pennsylvania, there was already discussion about which way the Scholastics were going to go with all of this. By Monday morning, it was apparent to me that all of the scholastic organizations were going to stay at 150. They were not going to move forward with USRowing's change."

The reaction resulted in USRowing Chief Executive Officer Patrick McNerney asking for public comment via a posting on the USRowing website, and USRowing's board scheduling an emergency meeting, where a follow-up vote rescinded the change.

However, a separate, but related motion on the board's original agenda - a vote to form a study task force to determine if junior lightweight rowing should be allowed to continue, and if so, could it be made safe - stood as proposed.

That motion was passed, and the task force committee membership was finalized last week, according to McNerney.

The series of events set in motion a national conversation on the value and future existence of lightweight junior rowing in the US, and has placed a heightened focus on the work of the task force. The scope of the debate has made it clear that the questions surrounding junior lightweight rowing will not be resolved easily, irrespective of how the USRowing Board ultimately votes.

A major issue facing the task force is that any decision made by USRowing can only be enforced as a rule at the association-owned regattas, including the Youth National Championships.

In other words, if USRowing decides to eliminate weight specific events, scholastic organizations can opt to continue to offer them at their own events, including the SRAA national championships, events run by the Philadelphia Scholastic Rowing Association (PSRA), the Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association (VASRA), the annual Stotesbury Cup Regatta in Philadelphia, and others.

Said Musial: "If USRowing decides to eliminate lightweight on the junior level, that's fine. But they better have a comprehensive, well thought out replacement, and have vetted it through the community. And when I say the community, I mean everybody - big programs, little programs, sweep, programs, sculling programs, club programs, scholastic programs - because it affects everybody differently."

"It's a complicated issue," said McNerney.

Lightweight fours racing in Sarasota
Lightweight fours racing in Sarasota

For this spring sprint season, the rules that preexist the recent debate will remain in place, and no board action will take place until the season is ended and the 19-member study group has had time to study all the competing views and options, he said.

"The task force is established," McNerney said. "They received all of the documentation, which I received back in December, all the email commentary from our members, the original notes from the judge referee rules committee that met in September and October, as well as some proposals that were submitted by some of the scholastic organizations.

"There is a lot of good information that has come through from the various scholastic organizations," he said. "All of that has been made available to the task force.

"The task force is large, and I kept it that way because of the diversity of opinion among the scholastic community, so that we have broad representation."

History of the Junior Lightweight Rowing, and the Safety Debate

Lightweights waiting to weigh in
Lightweights waiting to weigh in

While scholastic rowing dates to the 1920s, lightweight rowing was not introduced until some 50 years later, according to the associations that had available records.

The largest scholastic event in North America, the Stotesbury Cup Regatta, which has been hosted in Philadelphia by the Schuylkill Navy since 1927, first introduced lightweight rowing to the regatta in 1972. The previously all male regatta added girls events in 1978, and girls lightweights events shortly afterward.

The origin of the SRAA championship is traced back to 1935. As rowing expanded as a scholastic sport across the country, more events were added to the program, including lightweight and women's events in the 1970s and 1980s.

The USRowing Youth National Championships were first held in 1995, with lightweight events added in 1998.

In all three regattas, there are a significant number of lightweight entries. The 2017 Stotesbury Cup had 137 lightweight entries, the SRAA 109, and the Youth National Championships 130.

While lightweight rowing has been around long enough for some to think of it as a tradition, the debate about where the weight limits should be set, along with the safety and value of lightweight rowing, is not new.

The set limits for lightweights are currently 130 pounds for girls and 150 pounds for boys, but those limits have fluctuated up and down.

The 2017 proposal to increase the boys weight limit to 160 was made by Bainbridge Island Rowing head coach Bruce Beall, who argued that the current 150-pound limit created an in-between group of young male athletes that limited the number of athletes that would could row lightweight, and impacted the number of entries in regattas that have lightweight events.

"I talked to most of the coaches in the (Northwest) region and it seemed they felt that 150 was too light and had created a class of boys too big to make lightweight and not big enough to be heavyweight," Beall said. According to Beall, those issues were exacerbated by the boys' growth rates, and that natural freshman lightweights could not safely make weight as seniors.

"We had guys who grew out of the weight limit," he said. "They were lightweights as juniors, but couldn't make weight as seniors in a healthy way."

Opponents of the proposal argued that the risks involved in young athletes cutting weight were not worth the gains, and that age-based categories would better serve to ensure fair opportunity in the sport for any sized athlete to participate.

Participation vs. Competitiveness

Further complicating the issue is the fact that scholastic teams draw from smaller athlete pools than regional club teams, and some believe eliminating lightweight rowing would render smaller scholastic teams unable to be competitive.

2017 Youth National Men's Lightweight Eight Final
2017 Youth National Men's Lightweight Eight Final

One such scholastic program is Belen Jesuit Prep of Miami FL. Yunian Cabrera Torres has been coaching a successful lightweight program at Belen Jesuit Prep for several years. The Belen lightweight eight won the event at both the 2017 SRAA championships and the USRowing 2017 Youth National Championships.

Torres said that without lightweight rowing, Belen Jesuit would not have a competitive program.

"Removing lightweight programs from the youth national championship will be a disaster to my program because the majority of my kids, 95 percent of my kids, are Latins who are no taller than six-feet and weigh between 145 pounds to 158 pounds."

Saratoga Rowing Association head coach Chris Chase is among those who believe that lightweight rowing should be eliminated in favor of age-based events, and that moving the boys' weight standard is really a veiled argument for coaches wanting to win rather than offering opportunities to participate in the sport.

"As I understand it, the original purpose was to have it be more inclusive and to have smaller body people enjoy rowing and love rowing," Chase said. "Do we want to win? Absolutely. Am I willing sacrifice the health of my kids to make a superstar lightweight program? No. We shouldn't be talking about competition.

"If we are talking about opportunity, let's talk creating opportunities. If we are talking about competitiveness, then that is a different story."

Increased Attention

Exactly when lightweight safety became a critical issue is not as easily pinpointed. But for VASRA, the death of a Boston College lightweight collegiate male rower at the Dad Vail Regatta in 2005 resulted in their adopting the current weight management protocols.

Scholastic organizations, even those that had already implemented increased scrutiny of lightweight athletes, stepped up their efforts and attempts to prevent young athletes from dangerously dehydrating themselves to make weight prior to competition.

At the USRowing Youth National Championships, monitors were stationed inside restrooms at Harsha Lake in Cincinnati to discourage athletes from purging to make weight.

At USRowing events, athletes are required to weigh in two hours before an event. If they fail, they have an additional hour to make weight. But the athletes have to be within one pound of the established weight. More than that and they are immediately disqualified.

In Virginia, in direct response to the death in Philadelphia, the Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association (VASRA) adopted strict weight management guidelines, based on those already being used in scholastic wrestling.

Under the Virginia guidelines, athletes undergo a pre-season medical certification that includes both a urine analysis and skin fold measurements to determine if an athlete is physically capable of being a lightweight rower.

The testing determines each athlete's "baseline weight" and sets personalized lowest weight limits that an athlete cannot go under.

The initial tests are taken one week before a school's first allowable practice, and again three weeks later. Coaches and administrators are required to maintain athlete records and to submit them to VASRA to be used during event weigh-ins.

The VASRA guidelines are seen by many in the rowing community as the best example of lightweight safety. The association is confident in the system and will continue to offer lightweight rowing.

"Right now, we support lightweight rowing," said VASRA president Dorothy Lazor. "We have a number of teams that consistently enter lightweight events."

Lazor said the system does take additional time and resources and is funded by membership teams. Of the 43 organizations that row as part of the association, 39 crews from 26 programs were entered in the lightweight divisions at the association's championships.

“Can you guarantee anything in life - that somebody is not going to try and abuse the system or make some bad choices? I don't think you can. But I think the program that we have in place severely limits opportunities to make bad choices.”
- Dorothy Lazor, VASRA

Lazor said that she understands there are heightened concerns and added that the association is open to discussing alternatives as proposed by USRowing, but said she firmly believes that closing rowing to lightweights without an acceptable alternative is bad for the sport.

"I think lightweights can be a very valuable class, if people would adhere to it properly," she said. "It offers people the possibility of competition that might not be as competitive in another category."

To the question of whether any set of standards or guidelines guarantee against an individual going out of their way to lose weight - even within the existing system - she said:

"Can you guarantee anything in life that somebody is not going to try and abuse the system or make some bad choices? I don't think you can. But I think the program that we have in place severely limits opportunities to make bad choices."

While the Virginia guidelines appear to be the most specific in use, many other scholastic associations and club teams also require athletes to undergo pre-season certifications to try and protect against abuse.

Others rely on restricted event weigh-in regulations, such as the two-hour and one-pound restrictions at USRowing events.

What do the medical professionals think?

The stated concepts and goals for the existence of lightweight rowing is to increase access to the sport for athletes of all body types, but there is no question among coaches and health professionals that some athletes will engage in unhealthy and dangerous methods of cutting weight.

An American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical report titled Promotion of Healthy Weight-Control Practices in Young Athletes details the findings of clinical studies that identify the dangers associated with dramatic weight loss.

The clinical report details both unhealthy and healthy methods for monitoring lightweight athletes. The guideline does not make a clear statement one way or the other, but it is specific in documenting that some athletes will, and do, endanger themselves.

"In their attempts to change body weight and composition, some athletes resort to unhealthy weight-control practices. These unhealthy weight-control approaches may adversely affect health and, in some cases, can negatively affect performance. Pediatricians should have an awareness of safe and unsafe weight-control practices so they can counsel young athletes and family members appropriately," the guideline states.

Among the findings included in the document were these:

"Unhealthy weight loss behaviors occur along a continuum. At one end of the spectrum are individuals with a mild energy imbalance: caloric intake is not sufficient to cover the body's energy requirements. "At the other end of the spectrum are athletes engaging in dangerous weight loss practices that carry a high risk of associated morbidity and mortality; this extreme includes children and adolescents with frank eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

"In addition to fasting or restricting calories, risky weight loss practices include vomiting after eating, performing excessive exercise, and the use of diuretic, laxative, or stimulant medications. Persistent weight loss via unhealthy behaviors may result in delayed physical maturation, growth impairment, and the development of eating disorders."

The guidelines make it clear that the AAP recognizes the dangers associated to unchecked and unhealthy weight loss among young athletes.

But that does not mean that doctors who work in sports medicine believe that lightweight rowing should be eliminated.

Dr. Rebecca Demorest is one pediatrician who feels that lightweight rowing, under proper supervision, is not only a safe way to increase opportunities in rowing, but is a way to combat adolescent obesity.

Demorest rowed in high school and college and has served as a team physician for USRowing Under 23 national teams. She is also a past member of the AAP Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness and works with junior athletes at Oakland Strokes, which won the women's lightweight eight event at the 2017 Youth National Championships.

Oakland Strokes women's lightweight eight rowing to victory
Oakland Strokes women's lightweight eight rowing to victory

"I think (junior lightweight rowing) is a touchy discussion because there are pros and cons," Demorest said. "Having been a rower myself, I think the pro is that it opens up the sport to a whole different class of kids who might not otherwise be able to row. It's meant for smaller, shorter, people who aren't as big as traditional heavyweight rowers," she said.

"But the problems come when you have someone who could be heavyweight who wants to drop to lightweight. How do you manage that group of kids? I think that's what really makes it challenging, because there's some kids who clearly will be lightweight, and there are some kids who are clearly always going to be heavyweight. And I feel like the window gets pushed more and more each year for who can truly be lightweight.

"I've had these discussions with my potentially lightweight rowers about who really can be a lightweight and who really should not think about being a lightweight. I think that's where the murky water comes in, from my perspective as a physician."

According to Demorest, the key is first to determine which athletes can actually be lightweights, that can sustain the weight safely and to understand that teenagers - especially boys, who tend to have longer growth periods - are still growing and their ability to remain in a lightweight category could change.

She said Oakland Strokes does pre-season evaluations and that she has one-on-one discussions with individual athletes about their ability to row lightweight.

"You can't just decide I want to lose 25 pounds to be a lightweight rower," she said. "You have to take someone who potentially, genetically, should be a lightweight rower, and discuss how do you safely do this? This isn't you just drop weight.

"I think it's an individual discussion with each patient," Demorest said. "Just like with anything you see kids for, you have to take everything into account. There's not a cookbook medicine approach when you're dealing with people like this.

"My goal is for kids to be active. I'm a pediatrician, I practice sports medicine, I want people to be active. There's an obesity epidemic in this country; I want people to find something they love." Dr. Kristine Karlson is another former rower that believes lightweight categories have a place in youth sports. Karlson rowed on the 1992 Olympic team, is a sports and family physician, and currently serves as team physician at Dartmouth College. She has also worked at FISA events and travels with US national teams.

She will be participating on the USRowing junior lightweight task force.

"I think for the vast majority of people, it can be safe," she said. "But I think there are probably still people who will do things incorrectly. You can't stop every single bad weight making behavior," she said.

"You're always going to have your outliers, I'm afraid, who try to game the system. But if we do away with lightweight rowing entirely, we are closing rowing to a large amount of the population. On a participation level, there's going to be kids shut out. Kids who might learn an awful lot with rowing, if they were able to compete as a lightweight.

"I think it can be workable," Karlson said. "But it's going to require wrestling-type precertification, more attention to weight-making behaviors and more attention to weigh-ins, and sending someone to the heavyweight team in the middle of the season. It's going to require a lot of attention from the coaches, and to say, you're struggling, I want you to be a heavyweight. And that's not going to go over very well."

The Bottom Line

Even before the junior lightweight study committee begins to dig deep into the questions they are facing; before a proposal can be made to keep or eliminate lightweight categories in junior rowing and replace them with age-based events; it would appear that lightweight rowing is unlikely to be eliminated unless the entire rowing community, every club and scholastic program can agree to an acceptable solution.

A daunting, and almost unachievable, task; that, anyway, is a dominant opinion among both those who believe it is time to eliminate junior lightweight rowing and those that say they will continue to support it.

"I can speak for the SRAA," said Musial. "We will continue to support lightweight rowing as it is constituted right now, but we are very interested to see what the outcome of this (task force study) is going to be.

"But speaking personally, for the safety of the athletes, both physically and mentally, I believe it is probably best if we just do away with it all together."

Musial, who is also a high school coach and is planning to have a lightweight girls team, said the problem facing scholastic rowing overall is a lack of a national organization that could make a decision that would be enforceable to all of the different scholastic associations across the country.

"I don't think it's ever going to leave," said Chase. "Not from the high school level. I don't think it's ever going to leave, to be honest. My opinion is, should it be gone, yes. That is my opinion. My realistic opinion is even if USRowing eliminated it at the Youth National level, the regions would still have lightweight rowing."

“I don't think it's ever going to leave, to be honest. My opinion is, should it be gone, yes. That is my opinion. My realistic opinion is even if USRowing eliminated it at the Youth National level, the regions would still have lightweight rowing.”
- Chris Chase, Saratoga

Still, there are clubs and scholastic crews that are going to eliminate lightweight crews on their own because they have decided the risk is not worth the benefit.

"I'm personally very mixed on it," said Boston based Community Rowing Inc. head boys' coach Will Congram. CRI recently decided to eliminate lightweight crews from their program, even though they were using a pre-season screening protocol through the winter training.

"I don't want to say absolutely no to lightweight rowing because that sounds like an attack on a lot of really conscientious and thoughtful and caring coaches out there whose athletes are eligible to race in lightweight categories," Congram said.

"So, it's not about the coaches and it's not about how teams manage it, in my mind. But coaches can't control how athletes behave outside practice, and given that, it's simply that the existence of this category creates a potential avenue for problems.

"It's my feeling that no matter what, you can be the best most conscious coach and you can twist yourself in knots employing all of these different means of monitoring athletes - but you just don't know how athletes are going to respond, and how their parents are going to respond, on their own, to the existence of this category."

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Log in to comment
11/03/2019  10:00:48 AM
I can’t understand why no one addresses height as the real advantage, not weight. The most obvious solution is to eliminate weight categories and instead have height categories. Every rower should weigh what he/she needs to weight to be healthy and fit and at their physical best, but don’t expect a 5’8” person to row against a 6’4” rower.

06/18/2019  1:16:23 PM
If they cancel lightweight rowing I am going to quit rowing. There is no way I can win, having 10 or 11 practices a week is a huge waste of my time if I'm never going to achieve anything. I want to have the ability to make it to the top, without lightweight there is no way.

02/04/2018  9:13:31 AM
1 people like this
I have rowed in high school, college and as a master. I came into college rowing at around 180 and decided to go lightweight for “one” race - at the time HOCR was 170 max, 165 average. That started a lightweight career in college that included many unhealthy tactics to loose the weight to get to 159.9 each week including a lot of time in the sauna, erging in trashbags, heavy sweatshirts, water pills, etc. Back then, there was absolutely no supervision, no oversight and no access to dieticians like most college programs have today. That may sound like I am for eliminating lightweights, BUT THAT WOULD BE A MONUMENTAL MISTAKE. Lightweight categories not only offer the sport to a wider audience, it is usually a much more competitive race than some heavyweight races (obviously a broad generalization). As the father of 2 daughters, I find it absolutely insane that kids can not really pick up a sport in high school (LAX, field hockey, bball,etc) that they never played before because our society pushes kids to play a certain sport all year round beginning at an early age. My daughter tried to pick up LAX in 7th grade and couldn’t because most of these 12 year old girls have been playing all year long for 5-6 years. That is crazy. Rowing is one of the only alternatives that kids can start in high school. Lightweight categories opens that possibility to many more kids.

As long as there are safety protocols in place (like the virginia example in the article) and coaches commit to these protocols, we should continue to encourage the growth of our sport with lightweight rowing. Hopefully the board can see the benefit and can decide on a reasonable weitght limit for both Boys and girls. As for those that say kids will game the system, there will be kids that “game the system” at every level. There are plenty of kids that are taking muscle enhancers to gain muscle in our sport - hidden from the controls already in place. Eliminating an entire category is not the answer. Safety protocols and education are the keys.

Even though I am over 200lbs now, I still identify (mentally) as a lightweight. The toughness, chip on the shoulder attitude has proven to be an extremely valuable trait in my professional and personal life that I attribute to the “lightweight gene” that lied dormant until I got to college.

02/01/2018  7:21:22 PM
Rowing is the only Olympic sport with a finish line that has weight divisions. The only Olympic sports with weight divisions are combat sports (boxing, judo, taekwando, and wrestling) and weightlifting. Rowing has nothing in common with these sports but much in common in other sports. There are physiological advantages to being tall (or short!) or squat or slender in nearly every sport, but that has not caused the creation of physical type divisions. There is no need. There are lots of sports. If you're tall, gymnastics at the highest level is probably not for you. That being said, for youth rowing to ensure a more level playing field and encourage more participation, there is value in LW rowing at the scholastic and collegiate level. From an inclusion perspective, when it involves bringing in more athletes from demographics, populations, countries and continents where people are smaller, there is great value in have a thriving LW program through college, and a good argument for at international levels. But on the international level, the indications are all that LW Rowing is on its way out. People are getting bigger, the raising of the weight limit seems to make eminent sense. It's an arbitrary number, anyway, and one that is hard to justify not increasing given the average increase in height and weight in the U.S. and most western countries. In 1960, the U.S. average was 166 men, 140 women, barely over the current LW limits. Today, it's 195+ men and 166+ women. Times change. Rowing needs to adapt to ensure its future.

02/01/2018  1:59:43 PM
We need to learn from men and women's high school wrestling. Especially now that women's wrestling is really taking off! The answer is simple and does not have to be so complicated, follow the HS wrestling guidelines and procedures! Stick with Fisa weight limits and move on! I mentioned this to our HS wrestling coach of 20 + years and his joke was , 'I guess rowing people are smarter than wrestling folks or maybe they are just overthinking this. No rule is perfect and and there will always be abusers. But for 95% the wrestling guidelines work!'

01/31/2018  11:59:12 PM
As a former collegiate lightweight, I would hate to see the end of lightweight rowing. Though it never affected me (I was consistently 159lbs and never had to do anything more than take off my shoes to make weight) I understand the health implications. On the otherhand, you will never find more intense and close competition than in the lightweight division. It also provides an avenue for more “normal” sized athletes to compete. As I was reading the article, I wondered why the standard couldn’t be changed to height based, and I see that “djp” beat me to the punch. While this might not prevent all instances of cheating, it should certainly end the negative health effects. BTW, I’d like to see this at the masters level to, having not seen the light side of 160 since college. Might I suggest a 6’ cutoff. :)

01/31/2018  7:17:43 PM
"The girls high school eights that I coach always have 3 to 6 "lightweights" in the first boat." (Note not 8)... "Although it might mean that some people have to row in the second boat vs the first lightweight boat." Times don't change lightweights have to be good enough to row with heavyweights otherwise; sorry your 2nd string.

01/31/2018  11:16:02 PM
Yes, they are 2nd string, because they don't move boats as fast. Why exactly is that a problem? By what logic have you determined that the experience of rowing in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th boat is so humiliating and completely devoid of value that it means smaller kids simply can't participate in the sport anymore? Seriously, explain it. Please also address: if being "2nd string" is such a great injustice, why does it only matter to you that lightweight kids be shielded from this label? 2nd boat kids who weigh 149 lbs will get sad and quit, but the ones who weigh 170 lbs will happily keep rowing?

And, I hate to point out the obvious, but... if 3 to 6 lightweights are making the top boat, that is more than 50% of the lineup on average. This means that in the example you quoted with such contempt, a lightweight is just as likely (if not MORE likely) to make the top boat as a non-lightweight. So just to be clear, you're saying it's not fair unless the entire top boat is small kids?

02/01/2018  5:16:57 PM
"Yes they are 2nd string, because they don't move boats as fast". Why? Is it a lack of will? Are they not training hard enough? Or could it be, in part, they were not gifted with the weight/height of their fellow rower? We are just trying to be inclusive, give kids a chance to compete against and "equal". As they do in every other sport that has weight classes.

Look at the IRA Championship times. Typically the top mens lightweight boat would not make the top three in the heavyweight class. With the current lightweight/heavyweight division that is 24 men that can say "I medaled in the IRA GF of the Mens Lightweight 8." I believe that is incredible for them and great for our sport. I would dare anyone to go to those men and say "well I guess everyone in rowing gets a ribbon".

01/31/2018  2:50:59 PM
My USRA # is 1600 so I have been around rowing and competed for a long time in both varsity/heavyweight and lightweight events. Since almost the beginning of time it is my personal experience that lightweights have just never been considered OK as a part of the world of competitive rowing. It is an attitude and nothing more. Same thing in International Rowing as well as here in the USA. Just try to get rid of PEE WEE Football and you will have War. Dave R

01/31/2018  1:25:44 PM
Most high school boys are less than 160 pounds and any high school eight - even a really good one with some huge kids in it - has some boys under 160. The same goes for girls, relatively. The girls high school eights that I coach always have 3 to 6 "lightweights" in the first boat. So high school lightweight events are just not necessary for rowers to have an opportunity to row. Although it might mean that some people have to row in the second boat vs the first lightweight boat. Having those events at the big regattas certainly does add more options and I am all for that if the regatta thinks it's necessary, but it also leads to game-playing - that is switching the priority boats depending on the number of potential lightweights a coach has.

I think that lightweight rowing is important at the collegiate and above level and I wish there were more women's programs that had it. (But they follow what the NCAA does.) But boy to I love DJP's comments. This should be about height and not weight and that would solve a lot of problems. On the other hand, I was a lightweight on the Nat. Team because I have always been light for my height, so that would have kept me out - but would have left the door open for others.

01/30/2018  12:21:54 PM
Been coaching for 30 years and have seen first had the damage done to kids cutting weight. Average weight of male teen 16 to 20 is 139 pounds, Girls is 121 pounds. Current lightweight weights do not even represent the average must less lightweight. Save lightweights for when these kids are done growing. Too many coaches cut weight to look for the easy win.

01/30/2018  10:19:47 AM
We need the lightweight category to keep our sport vibrant. We need it to give young people a chance to participate in a sport that gives them a sense of teamwork and appreciation for the outdoors. To eliminate the lightweight class is to close a door on people like myself who rowed lightweight in high school, collage and still at it 30yrs later. Since the 70s there has always been (IMHO) a hint of elitism in the "we don't need lightweight" movement. Now it has simply taken a new tact. Back then the leaders just said "they just need to row harder". In 2018 the science shows for many lightweights that is simply not possible. Raise the weight to 160lbs and keep as many young people as possible making rowing part of their lives.

01/29/2018  7:29:25 PM
1 people like this
I am a parent of two lightweight rowers. I have never understood why US rowing and/or FISA does not simply set a maximum height rather than weight requirement. It seems to me that this would immediately resolve the health concerns and negative press over lightweight rowing while still expanding the numbers of rowers who can competitively enter the sport (and US rowing memberships). Survey the height of all current lightweight rowers (sure we would need to be sure they don’t “slump”- maybe measure height just once at the beginning of the season) take the average height to remove the outliers who are rowing lightweight when they clearly shouldn’t be, and set that at the maximum height for “lightweight”. Everyone else rows open weight. Twice as many youth get to participate in this fabulous sport.

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