100+ Year History
Washington Rowing thanks Team Historian and Board of Rowing Stewards member Eric Cohen, ’82, for his tremendous efforts to archive and catalog the 100+ year history of our program.
The University of Washington campus as we know it was less than ten years old when the first students took to the water to row. The shores of Lake Washington that bordered the 600-acre campus were a natural draw to the students and faculty. Still heavily forested, most access around the lake was by dirt logging roads and trails with travel by horseback (if you were lucky) or foot down to the pristine water.
Yet given the natural limitations of an age when Seattle was striving to be viewed as more than a pioneer town, an estimated 5,000 people showed up on shore and by boat to watch the first intercollegiate rowing race between California and Washington in 1903.
Although it looks very different today, little has changed in the caliber of athlete or the community support that Washington Rowing enjoys. From the very beginning Seattle embraced – in fact virtually demanded – the sport. The men and women that participated, although not privy to weight rooms, ergometers, indoor training facilities or sports medicine, trained extensively and with an ethic that lives on today.
The history that is presented here tells the story of Washington Rowing. Like walking back into Conibear Shellhouse after being away for a decade, the history of Washington Rowing is not about someone else. It is about you – our alums, our friends and our fans.