(As a non-lightweight and non-coxswain, I can't comment on those experiences.)
- Eating: Not going to lie, this probably ranks higher on my personal Why-I-Loved-College-Rowing list than it probably should. Rowing isn't necessarily a sport of immediate gratification. It's a sport of putting in tons of hours of training so that it will pay off in a very short period of time at the end of the year. At least, if you're looking at it from a results perspective, which many are. Eating, on the other hand, gives you satisfaction much more frequently. I mean, who doesn't love eating? Post-practice bagels-and-nutella time was on the very short list of high points of my week in college. No exaggeration. And there were definitely workouts where I thought to myself "Well, that went horribly wrong. I guess my fitness isn't even close to where I thought it was. This will almost certainly affect how I'm boated. BUT how much more can I eat than I would have been able to had I not done this workout? Okay, it's a good day."
- Fitness, Fitness, Fitness: I love being fit. To me, it's one of the best feelings out there. If you row, you will get fit. That's just how it works.
- Stop Worrying About Being Skinny: heavyweight rowing is one of the best ways to combat the skinny=beautiful line of reasoning that all girls have to face at some time. That's not to say there's anything wrong with skinny people or that they're not beautiful and fabulous too (some of my best friends are skinny people). But when you spend time with a bunch of heavyweight rowers, you stop think in terms of skinny/not skinny. You might still have ab-envy, but you start to realize that if you're going to have ab-envy, why not have leg-envy, back-envy, arm-envy, erg-envy, pull-up-envy, core-envy (not to be confused with ab appearance), or weight-lifting-envy? You start to realize how many ways there are to quantify fitness, and that if you spent all day envying everyone else, you'd probably just explode. So you conclude that all you can do is work with your own physique and become as fit as possible.
- Very High Pain Tolerance: Speaks for itself. Yes, rowing can hurt. You should probably know that going into it. If you think of it as a graceful idyllic sport, you are in for a rude awakening. That being said, one of my favorite things (if not my favorite thing) about rowing is how hard it is. Everyday, you get the opportunity to prove wrong the little voice in your head that says it's too hard. Then when you graduate college, you will be in shock at how little normal workouts hurt. This will annoy you, so you will work hard to find a way to make your non-rowing workouts as hard and as painful as your rowing workouts were. And then you will have reached the point of no return.
- Yes, you can do other things on campus: During my four years, my team had two Hoopes Prize winners, at least one HoCo chair, a fashion designer (2 and 3 are the same person), at least one Engineering Major, multiple a cappella group singers, members of both The Harvard Crimson (me) and The Harvard Independent, a study abroad participant, an ROTC member, an Intramural ref, a Catholic Students Association leader, and many other things including high level involvement in sororities and final clubs (yes, we all have close friends from outside the team). You do have to pick and choose, to a degree, and you do have to be good at time management, but you'd be amazed at the things rowers do outside of their sport. And when you think about it, spending time with people from so many different backgrounds and so many diverse non-rowing interests is a pretty cool thing. Guess I lied about not playing the make-friends card. Oh well.