Rowing is not only the oldest collegiate sport in America (1854), it is also among the fastest growing and most popular sports in the country. UMBC Crew began in 1992 in an affiliated relationship with the University of Baltimore, and became a single program in its own right in 1994. Now entering its eighteenth year, UMBC Crew has continued to expand in size and strength.
Rowers come in all shapes and sizes, as do the boats they row. There are two types of rowing: sweep rowing and sculling. Sweep rowers use both hands for one long oar, and their boats have equal numbers of rowers on both sides. Scullers row with a shorter, lighter oar in each hand. Sweep rowers compete in pairs, with a coxswain (2+) and without (2-); by fours, with a coxswain (4+) and without (4-, also called a "straight four"); and in eights (8+), which always carry a coxswain. At UMBC, we deal primarily in sweep rowing. We compete in fours and eights, although we sometimes use a pair and a double. Scullers compete alone in singles (1x), and together in both doubles (2x), and quads (4x). Shells used for sculling never carry a coxswain. A coxswain is the captain of the boat; they are responsible for steering as well as running practices and keeping the rowers and the equipment safe. A coxswain's job is to get the most out of the boat and the rowers; in a race a good coxswain and disciplined rowers are the differences between winning and losing.