junior lightweight

Lightweight rowing

Lightweight rowing (Lwt for short) is a special category of rowing where limits are placed on the maximum weight of competitors. The rationale is that larger, taller people have a small but significant physical advantage and tend to dominate the sport. Having a lightweight category gives average sized individuals the ability to compete against their peers, but rowers who are tall and thin generally have an advantage over those who are shorter but broader.

At international level for crew boats the limits are:

  • Men: Crew average 70 kg (154 lb) - no rower over 72.5 kg (159 lb)
  • Women: Crew average 57 kg (125 lb) - no one over 59 kg (130 lb)

For single sculls the limits are 72.5 kg and 59 kg for men and women respectively.

According to FISA, this weight category was introduced "to encourage more universality in the sport especially among nations with less statuesque people".

The first lightweight events were added to the World Championships in 1974 for men and 1985 for women. Lightweight rowing was added to the Olympics in 1996 but this came under threat in 2002 when the Programme Commission of the IOC recommended that, outside combat sports and weightlifting, there should not be weight category events. The Executive Board overturned this recommendation and lightweight rowing continues at the Olympics. There are three Olympic-class lightweight events: Men's Coxless Fours, Men's Double Sculls and Women's Double Sculls. The World Championships include lightweights' events for all classes of crew, and in Olympic years a reduced World Championship regatta includes all events that are not represented at the Olympics.

United States

At the collegiate level, many larger American Division I schools, unlike their UK counterparts, can field between one and three lightweight boats for both men and women. In recent years the practice of juniors training down to a weight has been questioned as low BMI has been linked to health and growth problems in adolescents. However, if there were no junior lightweight category the athletes would have to row at college level without special treatment, reducing their chance of top-level coaching or competition. Both the lightweight men's and lightweight women's leagues are small but fiercely competitive; the de facto national championship for both disciplines is the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championship held each year on the Cooper River in New Jersey on the weekend after Memorial Day.

In the U.S. Collegiate category, the following limits apply:

  • Freshman Men: Crew average 155 lb - no rower over 160 lb. (Starting in Spring 2007)
  • Varsity Men: Crew average 155 lb - no rower over 160 lb.
  • Varsity Women: No rower over 130 lb.

In the Junior category, the following limits apply:

  • Men: No rower over 155 lb.
  • Women: No rower over 130 lb.


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