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2012 Summer Olympics Rowing Guide

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On Saturday, July 28th, 2012, the highly acclaimed Eton Dorney Lake, near Buckinghamshire, will be the site where the Olympic blades hit the water. Here is some info to help you become a rowing expert.

History of Rowing: One of the oldest sports, rowing competitions were first chronicled to start in Egypt around 1450 BC. Beginning with the 1900 Olympics in Paris, rowing started with only five events. Now both men and women compete in more than fourteen events. Women began competing in 1976 in Montreal. And the lightweight events (which have weight limits) were added in 1996 in Atlanta.

Equipment of Rowing: The shell is any rowing boat. The bow is the shell's forward section, and the piece that assists the shell (located on its bottom) in keeping the true course is called the skeg or fin. Oars are very important for the shell to move in the water. The handle of the oar is held by the rower and is needed to drive the boat. The oar sits in the oarlock or rowlock. This piece is a U-shaped device intended for the oar to rest and swing in the water.

Terms of Rowing: Coxswain and Cox box - just a few terms of rowing that need a little description. A coxswain, or cox, sits in the rear (or stern) of the shell and is the person in charge of guiding the crew and steering the boat. The cox box is used by the coxswain to amplify their voice throughout the shell to assist in directing the crew.

Varieties of Rowing: There are a few varieties of races, along with different events. Two main differences are the oars. One type is sculling, which requires two oars (one is each hand). A "double" event is considered a sculling boat with two rowers, each maneuvering two oars. The other type is sweep oar events, where the rower holds one oar. An "eight" event is a sweep-oar boat and contains one coxswain and eight rowers, who each have only one oar. A "four" is also a sweep-oar boat, but differs by having only four rowers, with or without a coxswain.

Technique of the Rowing Stroke: The most important item to remember in a rowing stroke is to keep your chin up. The first part of the stroke is called the catch; this is where the oar gets placed in the water. After the oar is in the water than the leg drive begins, this is when all the power is coming from the legs. The leg drive is followed by the upper body continuing the pull in the water. When the legs are almost completed with their drive, the upper body continues with the arms moving quickly to the body. The drive is followed by the recovery, this is where the oar is transitioned back to start the catch.

I am very excited about the London Olympics and I am sure all the Rowing events will be great examples of endurance, teamwork, and the perfect stroke. Good luck to the U.S.A. Rowing Teams!

Ashley Hodge was a member on the University of Minnesota: Twin Cities Women's Rowing Team. After three months on the freshman team, she participated the next three years on the varsity team. For the majority of her rowing career, Ashley sat in seat seven, behind the stroke.

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