Question of the Day

Hi. I’ve been rowing on my high school team for four years now and I’ve been considering continuing crew in college. However, my times aren’t good enough to be recruited and I’ve always wanted to cox. People have told me I would be good at coxing but my coach wants me to row for him. But my weight is an issue. I’m 5’3″ and weigh around 140. I don’t know if I can healthily get down to a weight to cox, so is it possible for me to cox men? Thanks!

Depends on where you go to school. If you go to a school with a club program you could probably row or cox because they’re typically more lax about the height/weight requirements since a lot of the people on the team are new to rowing or haven’t participated in sports before (thus they don’t have the typical rower’s build). I would agree with you that getting down to a healthy weight range to cox women is probably going to be tough so unless you’re at a club program where that’s not as big of an issue, I personally wouldn’t consider it an option.

As far as coxing men goes (at all IRA schools and probably 99% of the competitive clubs (men aren’t NCAA, remember)) , that’s also tough because like women’s teams, they typically want their coxswains to be as close to racing weight as possible for reasons I’ve discussed before (basically, no one wants to carry around more dead weight than they have to, which is understandable). If you’re 140lbs now, that’s 13-15lbs you’d have to lose. I can’t tell you if that’s healthy for you or not because I don’t know you but assuming you’re a senior now and start college in the fall … yea, you’ve got plenty of time if you wanted to go that route. It’s a lot of lifestyle changes though so make sure you take that into consideration.

(Quick edit because I forgot to include this before I posted this.) If you want to cox the guys this season, as in three months from now, I’d say it’s still possible but you’re giving yourself a bit more of a time limit, which can be some people’s downfall. If you want to cox in college you could always still row this season and then walk on to the team in the fall and say “I want to cox”. You don’t have to cox this season but the practice certainly wouldn’t hurt. If you’re not trying to be recruited though (that period is pretty much over now anyways, I think) then it doesn’t really matter what you choose to do. Just remember that if you try to cox the guys you’re giving yourself a very small window to get in the racing weight range.

As a general note to everyone reading, I want to throw out a clarification on coxswain weights and who you’re coxing for. I know I’ve said many times that if being or staying at 110lbs to cox for women is not feasible for you then coxing men is always an option because their minimum is 125lbs. I’m not backing down from that because I do think it’s a reasonable option. I don’t, however, want people to get the impression that you can just jump right into coxing men regardless of your weight because their minimum is higher than the women’s. Their minimum is higher because they’ve got to accommodate male coxswains who probably haven’t been 110lbs since 7th grade. That’s it.

However, if you’re thinking about coxing you have to understand that weight is an important and dare I say critical component of being a coxswain. It’s not the most important thing but it’s something that needs to be given the proper attention by everyone who’s considering coxing. There’s really no easy way to say this but please don’t just assume you can jump right into coxing guys if your normal body weight is 10, 15, 20+lbs over 125lbs. You’re going to be gently nudged or sometimes flat out told to lose weight depending on who you cox for. If you really want to cox that badly but are more than like, 130lbs, you need to start thinking about making some serious changes in order to get down to racing weight (in a healthy way) by the time the season rolls around.

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