While there are ancient references to rowing as a sport, modern rowing races began in the early 1700s as a competition among the professional watermen who provided ferry and taxi service on the River Thames in London. Amateur competition began in the 1790s at many schools and universities including Oxford and Cambridge. Public rowing clubs were founded as early as 1818 with the sport spreading quickly across Europe and into North America. Rowing was included in the first modern Olympics in 1896 but the competition was cancelled due to poor weather. The sport has been in every Olympics since 1900. Notable Team BC alumni include 2016 Olympic silver medalists Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee.
In rowing, individuals or teams of rowers face the stern of the boat and use oars to propel the boats forward on the water. There are two main forms of rowing; sweeping, where each rower has one oar, and sculling, where each rower has two oars. There are different size boats for groups of eight, four, and two athletes, as well as singles. Boat classes include single sculls, double sculls, and quad sculls, as well as sweeping boats in pairs, fours, and eights. In some boats, including the eight and four, a coxswain is used to help steer the boat and give direction to coordinate the power and rhythm of the rowers. Success in rowing requires strength, endurance, technique, and teamwork.