Novice Info

Welcome to Brookline High School Rowing!

There is a lot of information here for novice rowers and parents which will be helpful in familiarizing yourself with rowing at Brookline High School.  Check out the video and Welcome to Brookline Crew PowerPoint, in the box on the right, and the information below. Please be sure to read everything. Especially helpful is our “Rowing Clothing Basics” section.

About Brookline Rowing

BHS has a tradition of excellence in rowing that dates back over a century.  Brookline Rowing’s  co-educational athletes represent approximately one-sixth of all spring BHS athletes. We are the largest team at BHS.

Brookline is one of only about 20 of the state’s 335 public high schools with varsity rowing.  We have won the Massachusetts Public School Rowing Championship more than five times.

Brookline Rowing competes with many of the region’s top private schools. We have consistently qualified crews for the National Championships in June, and have won gold and bronze medals. Our lightweight eights, fours, doubles, and pairs have ranked in the top 12 in the nation repeatedly. This makes us one of the top public school programs in the country.

Who should join the team

Any student who wants to work hard, get in shape, and learn a great sport.

How to join the team

Contact our novice coaches listed on the coaches page to let them know you’re interested.

Winter training for Novices begins in January. Notices will go out in the weekly blast, and will be posted around the school. While this is not mandatory, it’s a good idea to join winter training to get in shape for the spring season. To sign up for the spring season, pick up, fill out, and return a clearance form to the BHS Athletic Department in January or February along with the athletic fee and record of a recent (within 13 months of the season start) physical exam.

Time Requirements

Rowers train hard. Practice begins on the first Monday in March, continues through April vacation and runs through the end of May. Practices will be held for approximately two hours sometime between 3:30 and 7:30 pm (Monday through Friday) and on Saturdays in the late morning to early afternoon.  Races are on weekends (mostly on Saturdays and a few on Sundays) from early April through the end of May.

Every team member is required to participate in our two fundraising efforts during the year.  The Erg-a-thon is held in the fall and the Crew-a-thon in the spring.

Practice Locations

Early in the season land practices will be held in the BHS winter training room.  In early to mid-March (depending on the weather) practices will launch from the Boston Latin  Boat House on Soldier’s Field Drive, rain or shine or snow, unless notified by the coaches.  The athletes will not go on the water if there is lightning present, or if it’s extremely windy and dangerous. Otherwise, they will be rowing under all conditions.

Athlete Communications

The coaches need to communicate directly to the rowers on a regular, and sometimes time-sensitive basis. All athletes need their own email address and need to check it daily. If an athlete will be late for or needs to miss a practice, he or she (not the parent) should notify the coach directly and in a timely manner.

Getting to River practices

Many athletes bike to practice, and others carpool.  Problems with transportation is not an excuse for being late to practice. Boats have to launch will rowers on board.  The athletes are expected to figure out (maybe with help from parents) how to get to and from practice. They are learning how to be independent and responsible for themselves. In this way, they are learning more than just how to play a sport. The Friends of Brookline Rowing will provide team rosters so that families may organize their own carpools within their neighborhoods. Please do not use the email addresses for any group emails.

Rowing Clothing Basics

Here’s an overview of the clothing needed for rowing.  It’s important that athletes dress appropriately for safety, performance, and health, especially during the colder and wetter weather.

Synthetic Fabrics

Synthetic fabrics such as Polypro, CoolMax and similar fabrics are best because they keep the rower relatively warm even when wet, and they dry quickly. Athletes will get wet from perspiration, rain, and splash. The key is that they have synthetic clothing that will keep them warm even when wet.

Best Clothing

The best clothing for rowing is soft, stretchy, breathable, and fairly form-fitting. Loose shorts can get caught in the slides under the moving seats, so avoid basketball style shorts or warm-ups. Loose tops can get caught in the oar handles, so avoid bulky jackets or sweatshirts.  In general, athletes should dress as though they are going running in the elements or Nordic skiing.


Layering is important for keeping warm, and maintaining the right temperature. The athletes’ needs will change during a practice depending on exertion and changing conditions. Having the appropriate layers enables them to regulate their insulation and protection. Sometimes an athlete may mix two out of three layers, depending on conditions.

Base layer: Form fitting and intended to wick moisture away from the skin. The team JL Workout Shirts are great base layer tops. They are thin, and similar to base layer garments worn when skiing. Multiple base layers can be worn for added warmth. On colder days, athletes may want to wear tights for leg warmth.

Insulation layer: A synthetic fleece garment worn on colder days where extra insulation is needed. Thicker than the base layer, but not bulky. Polartec or Polarfleece clothing products fall within this category. Some insulation layer fabrics also have wind protection built in.

Wind block: Having a wind block that breathes helps retain warmth while not getting the athlete too hot. Base and insulation layers are generally not designed to block the wind. The team Splash Jacket* is designed for this purpose while also being form fitting so that it does not interfere with the oars, and has ventilation panels on the sides for breathing. Although not waterproof, the Splash Jacket also helps repel water. Other wind blocking clothing can be worn, but ensure that it breathes and is form-fitting. (*These are optional and sold separately through the captains or coaches at the beginning of some seasons.)


An athlete can lose a lot of body heat through the head.  On cold days it’s important that they wear an insulated hat to keep them warm.


Athletes should have a pair of rubber sandals (or slip on or off shoes) for rowing on the water days.  Keep in mind that these shoes will need to be put on and taken off very quickly, and be left on the dock where they will most likely get wet.  (On dry land days – or any day the weather turns and water practice is impossible – rowers should have running shoes handy.)


Hands can get cold while rowing. However, you will not see athletes rowing with gloves. The reason for this is that rowing requires a tactile feel of the handle. Athletes can put their hands under their legs or armpits to keep them warm.

If an athlete gets especially cold hands, they can purchase Pogies from one of the rowing sites. They fit over both the oar handle and your hands. Consequently there are separate designs for sculling and sweep. One caution on Pogies is that they can keep your hands too warm and retain moisture, causing an ideal environment for blisters.


Coxswains may want to invest in flotation suits, waterproof gloves and socks:

Dry Clothes on Land

VERY IMPORTANT!!!  On especially wet days, athletes should have dry clothes to change into when they get back on land.  Athletes are asked to change quickly so that we can continue with team activities.


Athletes must have running shoes every day for practice (you never know when a land day might happen).  A good pair of shoes is important to reduce chances for injury.  Running shoes should be replaced every 300-400 miles.


Athletes must have running shoes every day for practice (you never know when a land day might happen).  A good pair of shoes is important to reduce chances for injury.  Running shoes should be replaced every 300-400 miles.

Waterproof Clothing

Waterproof clothing is not required for rowing. If you do purchase waterproof clothing, ensure that it is highly breathable. Really waterproof clothing tends not to breathe as well, increasing body heat and sweating, and then holding the perspiration within the clothing. This makes it difficult to regulate temperature, and may encourage athletes to remove clothing, which is counterproductive, and results in them getting chilled again.

No Cotton

Athletes should avoid cotton.  Cotton does not keep a person warm when the fabric is wet, and instead can serve to chill an athlete.  Cotton should not be used as the base layer, because it does not wick moisture away from the skin,

No Down

Down should never be worn on the water.  When down gets wet, it will clump, get very heavy, and has no insulating properties.

Label Your Clothing

We recommend writing your name on the tag of all of your clothing.  This will make it clear who it belongs to, and reduce the chance that you will lose your clothing at the boathouse or regattas.

Clothing Retailers

There are a variety of rowing clothing manufacturers and retailers on the Internet, including:

You can also get clothing from other active athletics stores in the area or online.