Why Rowing?

Rowing is a physically, mentally, and socially transformative sport that plays a unique role in the water-rich Downriver region.  Grosse Ile Township is fortunately situated on an island, surrounded by recreational waterways. These waterways are a valuable community resource for health, community engagement, and appreciation of the environment.

The GIRC’s programs, including its planned youth initiative Row to the Future, are intended to bring the following benefits of rowing to as many individuals in Grosse Ile Township as possible.

Health and Wellness

The “obesity epidemic” that is affecting the US and much of the rest of the world has been widely reported. The rate of obesity in the US population is now 25%, and nearly one in five youth (ages 2-18) are obese. Childhood obesity is linked to adult obesity as well as other chronic diseases. While causes of this epidemic are complex, physical inactivity plays a significant role in the current crisis. Evidence shows that only 35% of American youth get the recommended levels of daily physical activity. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends moderate to vigorous daily physical activity for all ages to maintain a healthy weight, blood pressure, and bone strength throughout life. Rowing is an ideal way to meet these recommendations and support lifelong wellness for many reasons:

• Rowing satisfies goals of both aerobic activity and muscle strengthening as defined by the CDC – participants must maintain an elevated heart rate (aerobic) while also applying force against a heavy resistance (muscular strength).

• Participants consistently use 70% of their muscle mass when rowing.

• The physiological adaptations the body experiences when training for rowing consistently surpass nearly all other sports in health and fitness benefits.

• Rowing is a lifetime sport that is appropriate and challenging for people of all ages, body types, and athletic abilities.

• A low-impact sport, rates of traumatic injury are relatively low and participation can be sustained for a long period of time.


The sport of rowing immerses its athletes in a college-going culture, opens the door to an array of educational opportunities and fosters an academically-oriented community across all ages.

At the college level, women’s rowing in particular has grown rapidly since the NCAA first hosted a championship in 1997. There were just over 4,400 student-athletes competing that year and over 7200 by 2006-07 – an increase of more than 60% in a decade. In the six years since that time the number has continued to increase rapidly.

Scholarships are also available in rowing at a rapidly increasing rate. The NCAA allows each women’s rowing team to sponsor up to 20 scholarships – more than the maximum number allowed in any other sport. This supply means there is a good chance a successful high school rower, particularly a female, will earn a scholarship to attend a top university.

Once enrolled, college rowers continue to excel – data from the NCAA show a 91% graduation rate for rowers, as compared to 79% for all student-athletes and 63% for the general population.

Social and Personal

Often called the “ultimate team sport”, rowing demands cooperation, precision and cultivates an appreciation of teamwork. Rowers work together to do everything from moving equipment to completing a race at top speed while working in unison towards a common goal.

Rowing allows participants to experience their environment in a new and different way, fostering an appreciation of natural resources when on the water.

Rowing is an incredibly challenging sport, ideal for instilling notions of persistence and self-efficacy in youth and adult participants.