What is the Development Team?
The Development Team is a non-competitive rowing program for Middle School and High School athletes. This program is for ALL LEVELS – NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY! Emphasis is on rowing technique, boat handling, physical conditioning, teamwork and fun as well as preparation for the High School Racing Team. Practices are a combination of rowing on the water and dry-land training.  New rowers will use row in a training barge, a very wide and stable boat.

Will I get wet?
Yes, rowing is water sport.  There is often a little splash or spray while rowing.  However, it is unlikely that your boat will capsize.  In the barge, it is virtually impossible to capsize.

How often does the Development Team Practice?
Typically are from 3 to 5 times per week for 75-90 minutes per session.  There are no weekend commitments and there are no regattas to travel to.

If I join the Development Team do I get to race?
The Development Team does not participate in regattas.  There may be racing among teammates at practice depending on the day’s practice plan.  But we do help you  get ready for the Racing Team if that is where you want to head.  The Racing coaches are always watching our Development Team for “hot prospects” to move up.

I’m a freshman in high school, should I join the Development or Racing Team?
If you have never rowed before, you should take a Learn-to-Row class. After that, it partly depends on you!  If you want the experience of a rigorous high school sport, and the coach thinks you are ready for the commitment, then join the Racing Team.  If you are just looking for an activity to do recreationally, then join the Development Team.

Can I switch from the Development Team to the Racing Team during the year?
Yes.  At the start of any season you may decide to join the Racing Team.

The Novice Racing Team is for newer rowers who are excited about training hard and racing.  A “novice” is defined as anyone who has less than one year of rowing experience, regardless of age or grade.  At practice the novices will train together.  The boys and girls each have their own teams and equipment.  At regattas, the novices will race against other novice crews.  The “novice year” is fun time of learning, gaining fitness, and developing bonds with your teammates that will last a lifetime.

How old do I have to be to join the Novice Racing Team?
Most Novice Team members are in 9th and 10th grade.  There are usually a smaller number of juniors and senior, and a handful of gung-ho 8th graders.  We usually encourage 7th graders to join the Development Team.

Do I have to have experience or being on the Development Team before joining the Novice Team?
Yes, you should first take a Learn-to-Row class. Once you get the hang of it, talk to a coach to see if you are ready to move up. If you have the desire to work hard and race, the Novice Racing Team is for you!

I’ve heard rowing is for tall people.  I’m short.  Can I still row?
YES!  The great thing about rowing is that the entire boat crosses the finish line together no matter what size the rowers are.  You can be any size and still row well.  Smaller rowers often have more heart and drive than taller ones!  If you are really small, we have a special job for you.  The “coxswain” is the brains of the crew.  He or she steers the boat and verbally guides the rowers through the work out or race.  The coxswain is an essential part of any crew and often makes the difference in a successful practice or race.

How often do I get to race?
The Novice Team will race at 3-4 regattas in the fall and 4-5 regattas in the spring, depending on the schedule.  The Head of the Charles in the fall is a varsity-only regatta.  The Youth National Championships in the spring are open only to varsity boats that qualify by medaling at the Northeast District Championships.  Novices do race at the District Championships but cannot qualify for Nationals.

How do I get to regattas?
NRRA is unique in the region because we provide all of the transportation and lodging for the team when we travel to farther away regattas.  These costs are included in the seasonal Regatta fee.  The only extra expense to your child is for meals on overnight trips.  We take one or two overnights trips per season.

Do I get a uniform?
Yes.  In the fall you will be issued at team t-shirt to be used as your uniform.  You get to keep this.  In the spring you will buy a team “unisuit” that will be your uniform.  This is a one-piece spandex suit that is the norm for crew teams around the world.

If I join the Racing Team, can I do other sports or band at the same time?
A few very dedicated rowers can do another sport simultaneously if the practice schedules do not conflict.  We do not permit missing practices for other sports.  There is too much to learn and your teammates need you to fill out the boats at practice every day.  Some band directors allow musicians to arrive late from practice.  Check with your director.  Missing regattas for band is not permitted.

The Varsity Racing Team is for athletes who have more than a year of racing experience.  Team members get their start on the Development Team, Novice Team, or at another rowing club.  The goal for the Racing Team is to qualify crews for the Youth National Championships at the end of the spring season.  This process starts with the younger athletes in their freshman, sophomore, and junior years.  Training includes learning the proper rowing technique, developing the strength and conditioning to compete at a high level, and molding the mental acumen to be a successful racer.  It takes time and effort to build the combination of skill, strength, and toughness to race for a national championship.  By the time the athletes are seniors, they have accumulated the experience to be successful athletes for the rest of their lives.

Do I get to compete for my high school?
Norwalk River Rowing is a club team, meaning we are not affiliated with any one school.

Do I have to be on the team year-round?
Unlike most mainstream sports that have only one season, crew is a year round sport.  The major championship regattas are in the spring.  However, it takes a full year of preparation to race well at those regattas.  Fall brings long time-trial races called “Head Races”. These are individual races that do not result in qualifying for any National competitions, but are great for preparing for the Spring. The winter is an important period of individual improvement in strength and conditioning.  The summer is where we focus on training in smaller boats and sculling. Racing in the summer is optional but encouraged!

My friends who row always talk about their erg score.  What is that?
The “erg”, slang for ergometer, is and indoor rowing machine.  We use that machine for conditioning and fitness testing.  The standard evaluation in rowing is the 2,000-meter erg test.  Because it is standardized, like an SAT score, athletes around the world can gauge how fast they are relative to their teammates and competitors.  We do frequent testing at NRR so if you do not have erg score yet, you will soon!

If I’m not in the top boats, what does that mean for me?
It is very important to have “depth” on a team of any type.  Depth refers to how many athletes there are backing up the top boats.  The more internally competitive the second, third, and fourth boats are, the more upward pressure there is on the first boat to train hard and race fast.  Athletes are always striving to earn a seat in a better boat.  An athlete in the third boat may make it his or her goal to be in the second boat by the end of the season, just as the second-boat rowers are trying to get into the first boat.  Many regattas have separate events for second and third boats.  This allows everyone to race against other crews at a similar skill level.  At the end of the day, we are all on the same team and a victory for one boat, no matter what level, is a victory for the whole team.

Rowing is a complex motion.  Simply learning the skills takes a significant amount of time and effort.  Learning to use those skills at near maximum heart-rate, as in a race, takes months and years of practice.  In order to perform at their best, the athletes must attend every scheduled practice.  See your specific program for scheduled days and times.

Athletes are expected to be on time for practices.  Proper clothing is necessary. Here is list of what to wear:

  •  Spandex shorts or long spandex pants in cold weather.  Loose fitting shorts or pants will become caught in the sliding seat.
  • Sneakers.  Everyone does dry-land training at some point during practice.  Sneakers are required for these activities.
  • Hat and sun protection.
  • Water bottle.  NRRA has banned single-use water bottles at our boathouse.  Please bring a reusable bottle with your name on it.  We have tap water for you to fill it as needed.
  • COLD WEATHER In cold weather cotton is a rower’s worst enemy.  It traps water, moisture, and sweat against the skin chilling you very quickly.  Synthetics such as capilene and bergelene are better insulators, even when wet, because they wick moisture away from the skin.  Layers, wool hats and socks, and a windbreaker are cold weather essentials.

Rowers do not stop just because it is cold outside and the river is frozen!  Winter training is a great time to stay active and improve your fitness.  For the Racing Team athletes who are training for high level competition in the spring, training during winter is critical to successful racing.  For Development Team athletes, winter training will make you stronger, faster, and healthier.

When do the Winter Programs run?
Winter is divided into two segments: Winter I is November and December, Winter II is January and February.

What do you do everyday?
The Racing and Development Teams train indoors using rowing machines called “ergometers” as our primary tool.  We also incorporate weightlifting with proper instruction and oversight; yoga and pilates; and core strengthening using stability balls, foam rollers, and medicine balls.  While the focus is on improving individual fitness, we make workouts into team efforts.

Is there any racing during the winter?
We do not travel to any races during the winter.  Many practices have a competitive nature to them, either by the coach’s design or by the competitive spirit of our athletes.  For athletes who do want to compete, there are regional and national erg competitions that athletes may choose to attend on their own.

Rowing in college is a life-molding experience.  There are many options to explore when deciding on a college and rowing can be one of them.  Be sure to start your college “homework” early – usually during your 10th and 11th grade years.    The coaching staff is knowledgeable in process and can help you in your decision-making, with your applications, and provide valuable references. The NRR website has a section of the website dedicated to those interested in pursuing rowing in college.

Will rowing “get my kid into college”?
Getting into college rides heavily on school grades and test scores.  Rowing can help a college application if the athlete has demonstrated a strong commitment to his or her team and plans on continuing that level of commitment in college.

Can I get a college scholarship for rowing?
Coaches from Division I colleges look to recruit from the top 10 to 20 percent of high school athletes.  Recruiting can mean scholarship money.  For the top high school athletes in the country, especially women, full-ride scholarships can be earned to the top rowing colleges.

What if I am not a top high school athlete, can I still row in college?
Yes.  There is a college rowing program for every one.  Even if you go to a top rowing college but are not recruited, you can still join the team as a “walk-on” athlete.  Rowing is rapidly growing in popularity among colleges, and many of the colleges you will be looking at have rowing programs.

I am interested “fill-in-the-blank” University.  Do you have alumni there I can talk to?
Probably!  Among NRRA’s alumni, we have current students and graduates at many of the colleges in the country.  They would be happy to talk to you about their college experience.

NRR  is committed to making rowing available to any child age 12+ who has the desire.  Scholarships for our programs are available through the Matthew Zucker Memorial Fund.  The Fund allows athletes of lesser means the same opportunity to grow, learn, and succeed through the sport of rowing.

How do I apply?
A scholarship application is available to print from our website.  Send this in with requested paperwork before the start of your program.  An interview with the athlete and a parent will be scheduled.  You may apply for a scholarship for as many seasons as you need, however, the interview only needs to be completed once per year.

How is the Fund funded?
The Scholarship Fund is through donations.  Each September, NRRA holds the Matthew Zucker Memorial Fund Ergathon Fundraiser.  The majority of the money given each year in scholarships is raised at the Ergathon.

I would like to contribute to the Scholarship Fund.  How can I do this?
Donations can be made electronically through the NRRA website – please find the Donate item on the top menu. Donations to NRRA are tax-deductible.  Thank you for your generosity.

NRRA is a community organization.  We value our role as a provider of programs to the community.  Likewise, we recognize that we are fortunate to be able to utilize the Norwalk River and to be able to practice a sport that we love.  NRRA has launches several initiatives with the purpose of giving back to the community and improving the quality of living for others.

Please watch for opportunities to volunteer – not only for your child’s team, but for the  organization as a whole.

Our youth rowing programs are supported by parent volunteer efforts. Parents organize events, support regatta logistics and much more. Our Parents’ Organization will collaborate with NRRA Staff in hosting a Parent Information Night at the beginning of each season  to give parents a chance to stay better informed, get more involved, ask questions, comment, meet each other and to provide support for a better environment for our young rowers.