Team Structure

In any given year, the Club has anywhere from 80 to 100 athletes (including rowers and coxswains), about equal number of boys and girls, and each divided into middle school and high school programs.   A first-year rower just entering the program, whether a freshman in school or older, is considered a "novice".  This is for safety and training in a rigorous team structure.  After the first year, all athletes are considered "varsity" members.  No athlete that is willing to practice and be a team member is cut, but competitions and skills assessments are held regularly to structure the fastest boats for a given race.  For cost, training and team participation efficiencies, the Milwaukee Rowing Club races only “eight+” and “four+” boats, meaning eight (or four) rowers plus a coxswain (some other clubs also race singles and doubles).  The all-important coxswain is the boat leader and race strategist, and is critical to a winning team.


The Milwaukee Rowing Club “year” is organized around four distinct rowing “seasons” (fall, winter, spring, summer).  Fall is the start of a new year and is when most new rowers join the club, although rowers can (and do) join throughout the year.  Fall practices are on the water, and the club usually participates in four regattas, one “home” and the other three “away”.  The fall season runs from the first week of September, through the first week of November.  With weather and time changes, the winter season moves indoors to “erg” training for most practices, although some weekends the team is in Madison, using the University of Wisconsin’s indoor rowing tanks.  The spring season, starting the first week of March, is the major racing season and culmination of the year’s efforts, leading up to the regional and national championships in May and mid June.  Summer is a transition time, when the majority of new rowers join start via Learn-to-Row, and the graduating seniors say goodbye.   Time is spent mastering fundamentals, cross training, and integrating new rowers onto the team. There are several regattas that the team attends during the summer.


In a typical school week, the team practices five days, Monday through Friday, from 4:30pm-6:30pm. During the summer, practices are held from 7:00am-10:00am.  MRC practices, whether on the water or not, are challenging and structured to provide instruction, improvement and a sense of pride and accomplishment to all athletes on the team. The team strives to be “on the water” whenever conditions permit. Heavy storms, high water and daylight are limiting factors.


The Milwaukee Rowing Club coaching staff is a highly qualified group with over 35 years of coaching and rowing experience.  Our coaches are mostly former Division 1 collegiate rowers with experience coaching junior, master, collegiate, and pre-elite rowers.


The club maintains a boathouse and launch dock on the Milwaukee River near Commerce Street and Humboldt Street. The Milwaukee River provides several miles of sheltered practice waters. The club also maintains and indoor training facility in the lower level of Schlitz Park, including ergometer rowing machines, free weights, and training bikes.


The Rowing Club owns over 30 racing “shells” and complimentary equipment: oars, safety equipment,  and motorized coaching launches, as well as a trailer to transport it all.


Rower safety is paramount in all Milwaukee Rowing Club activities: practice, travel and regattas. No boats are ever on the water without accompaniment by a coach-staffed motor launch equipped with safety equipment.

Regattas & Travel

In a typical rowing year, all or parts of the club may participate in 10-12 regattas, most “away” and requiring travel. Most regatta costs are included in the seasonal fee assessment. “Overnight” regattas include a fee assessed separately for participants in that regatta. The club is experienced and efficient in team travel, and it is a rewarding experience for both the athletes and parent chaperones. Athletes are expected to participate in all regattas.


Milwaukee Rowing Club parents are counted on to volunteer in support of the team’s efforts: helping with home regattas, fundraising, travel, facilities…the list is long. Volunteer opportunities come up throughout the year.   Please consider volunteering when you can.