Hello friends, I have an interesting question for you.
What is the difference between an oarsman and a rower?
I’m sure that anyone who is experienced will have an opinion or own definitions, but I’m interested in hearing what you think.
What do you think is the difference ? No, don’t head to your local dictionary, it will tell you that the words oarsman and rower mean the same thing. For sure, an oarsman will know the difference.
Keep reading, and I will tell you what I have found the difference to be, and then you can tell me if you agree.
- TRENDING TOPIC: How to Get Into Rowing
We all know rowers. They come in regularly, they train at practice. They often train hard, and you’ll want them on your team because, like you, they also work hard.
They’ll be at the gym (or their home gym as the case may be) using the erg during the off-season. It could also be that they’re using the erg just for exercise or after they’ve been injured.
They won’t call themselves a rower, most likely. They will call themselves a team member, maybe a crew member. Perhaps they will even call themselves a sculler or sweeper to those on the team but not to their non-rowing friends.
To the average rower, rowing is a fun way to exercise, race, and perhaps enjoy some camaraderie, but it’s really not much more than that. Outside the boathouse, they live different lives.
I would imagine that if something were to happen that prevented them from rowing ever again, they would easily switch to something else and be fine with it.
I do wish there was a better name for this. I’m always hoping that Oarsperson will catch on, but for the time being, oarsmen or oarswomen are what we’ve got.
For an oarsman (or oarswoman, as in my case), rowing is a way of life. We live and breathe rowing, and it forms the basis for our outlook or view of the world.
An oarsman considers the culture and etiquette of rowing and what it means to the world at large. We can’t imagine a life without rowing or at the very least erging, and it’s not just about the exercise, either.
Rowing, whether sculling or sweeping, is a sport that most people vastly underestimate.
Ask the average person about rowing, and they will tell you about the time they took their dad’s canoe out on the lake behind the family’s summer home and how they packed a picnic lunch.
An oarsman considers rowing to be life, whether it’s enjoying a leisurely 15,000-meter scull across a freezing lake or training like the dickens with bleeding hands for the next race.
An oarsman knows that those bleeding hands are a way to learn perseverance. The early morning practice drills teach you about commitment, and the shared pain teaches you empathy for others.
Rowing can be a pure pleasure, but it’s not without cost. An oarsman understands that winning comes with some measure of pain, both in rowing and in life.
What Is Your Philosophy and When Did You Learn It?
I realize that not everyone learns rowing from a young age, so it’s not surprising to hear that Heather Stanning, who won an Olympic Gold medal at 27 years of age didn’t even start her rowing career until she was 21.
What about you? When did you start rowing? Are you still a rower or are you an oarsman?
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not in any way trying to say that rowers are not “as good” as an oarsman. That would be like saying that dolphins are better than whales or vice versa.
Someone once told me that if all the world were lumberjacks, we would all be sitting on tree stumps.
There is a place in this world for everyone, no matter what their skill or mindset.
If you are a rower, you are welcome in my world.
In fact, I bet that if you are a rower, you might describe me as a bit crazy about rowing or say that I have a real passion for it, and you would be right.
How do you see rowing in your life? Is it fun exercise, or is it your life?
What about the other people in your life? Do you have friends who are rowers or oarsmen? How would your non-rowing friends (perhaps co-workers) describe you?
I find this subject fascinating and hope you do as well, and I’m really looking forward to your answers and thoughts on this subject.
What’s It Like to be an Oarsman?
I’m sure that it’s a bit different for everyone, but for me, being an oarsman is like breathing. It’s something you just do naturally with little or no thought.
I don’t wake up every morning thinking “Today would be a great day to row” any more than I wake up thinking “Today would be a great day to blink more.”
Seeing the glassy smooth water can instantly put me in a good mood. Hearing one single clunk as every oar is feathered at precisely the same time makes me grin. The exhilarating feeling that I get every time I sit in a shell and the endless hours of rowing have given me stamina that I never imagined possible.
These feelings roll over into every aspect of my life.
When faced with any type of non-rowing-related challenge, I often tackle it as though it were rowing.
“Ok, so now let’s look through the cabinets and take inventory of what we have so we can make a proper list of what we need”. It’s a grocery list, right, but hey, everything can be rowing-related if we choose to see it that way!
For me, a proud oarswoman, I choose to see it that way. It makes me happy and gives my life purpose.
What about you?
At the End of the Day
Whether you are a rower or an oarsman, rowing will get you friends for life, physical fitness, and mental toughness. It allows you to enjoy being outdoors on the water every single day that you possibly can, and erg with a friend when you can’t.
I hope you found this article inspiring, and if you are new to rowing, welcome.
I recommend that beginners join a rowing club if they feel like they want more than what the erg can give them because erging in a gym just isn’t the same!
Rower or oarsman, which one are you?
Either way, I’m glad to make your acquaintance!
Written by Rebecca Caroe – RowingCrazy.com
Experienced Rower, Rowing Podcaster, Olympic Rowing Commentator & Expert Masters Rowing Coach
Rebecca Caroe is a masters rowing expert and a rowing coach. She is a rowing entrepreneur, has commentated for the BBC at London 2012 Olympic Games and is also a very well known Podcaster in the rowing world.