Learn About Crew and Hylton’s Team!


Oxford Boathouse in Lake Ridge Park

What is Crew?

C.D. Hylton High School offers an array of sports and clubs for students to divide their time to, one of these activities being Crew. Not simply rowing a canoe or kayak, Crew can be described as a very difficult and physically straining sport that works up to, as Dr. Cameron Nichol describes, 85 percent of the body, with muscles being used from the arms, back, core, and legs. Healthline describes a list of the benefits of rowing, also striking down the misconception that rowing is just an arm workout by stating, “In reality, rowing is a full-body workout.”  The workout itself consists of a drive, which forces the legs, back, and arms to thrust backward against resistance to the “finish” and then the recovery, which allows the body some time before reaching the “catch” where the body must thrust itself back again. 


Sara and Eva Mihalovich carrying their boat off the water and into the boathouse after a regatta. 

Hylton’s Crew Team

The Hylton Rowing Team rows out of the Oxford Boathouse, located in Lake Ridge Park Marina. The park itself offers many outdoor activities consisting of kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, and more. The trails that feed out of Lake Ridge and along the Occoquan Reservoir, will often present the opportunity to see the different types of boats that row in Prince William County. 

The Men’s Novice 8 at one of their first regattas in the 2022 season!


Hylton Women’s Senior Quad in the Ted Phoenix Regatta April 16th, 2022

Stern to Bow Elizabeth Kemp (12), Jane Voith (11), Kaci Atkins (11), Mariana Gilliam (11)


Types of Boats

A ‘shell’ is an extremely narrow, typically long, rowing boat constructed specifically for racing. There are about six common types of rowing shells. The smallest being a single (1x), with one person, and the largest being an eight (8+) with eight rowers and a coxswain. In between there are doubles (2x), pairs (2+), quads (4x), and fours (4+). 


The key difference between a double/quad and a pair/four is the number of oars. Singles, doubles, and quads are sculling boats, meaning each person has two oars. On the other hand, a pair, four, or eight are sweep boats, meaning each rower has only one large oar. It is also important to note fours and eights have a coxswain, usually a lightweight team member dedicated to calling the race and steering the boat. 

Roles on the Team

To maximize rowing pay off, coaches usually strategically place rowers in certain seats. Commonly referred to by rowers as a line-up, there are a few seats that are necessary to be on the water. The seat closest to the stern of the boat, also known as stroke, sets the pace for the entire boat. With everyone following the stroke seat, it is important that they remain consistent and have a good drive-to-recovery ratio. On the opposite end of the boat is bow. In sweep boats bow is used to help the coxswain steer, in sculling boats they steer and call the commands. 

Now that the ends of the boat have been covered, let’s move on to the middle. Sometimes called the “engine room,” the center of the boat is where coaches typically pack the power. In an eight this can be four people, where smaller boats it might only be a pair. 


Rower’s Slang

When commanding or “coxing” a race, several words and phrases are shortened. Rowers also utilize code words for specific boats so that surrounding boats do not know what they are doing. Some common terms are as follows: 


Sara and Eva Mihalovich practicing for an upcoming regatta


The Men’s JR-4X at the Ryz Obuchowicz Regatta in April


“Hands on” – Used when taking the shell in and out of the water

“Weigh Enough” – Stop 

“Power 10 in 2” – A time when rowers add more pressure than they had during their steady state

“Drop that Split” – A split is the time it takes to go a specific distance, usually set for 500 meters. 

“Press of the Heels” – Used during power pieces and when lowering the split.

“Focus 5” – Rowers are putting their effort into form, such as the set, pressure, or timing. 

“Level Hands” – Called when the boat is getting off set, the blades are skying, or oars are dipping

“Blades off the Water” – When the blades drag, they slow down the boat, keeping them off the water ensures the boat is getting good payoff. 


Men’s Junior Double in the sprint of the Ted Phoenix Regatta April 16th, 2022

Stern to Bow- Nick Slater (11) and Paul Quinter (11)

More rowing terms can be read about here. 


How to row:

The catch:

Rowers begin their stroke up at the catch where their knees are bent and their arms stretch out beyond the “rigger.” On sweep boats, the rowers’ torsos are twisted to account for the one oar that they are handling.

The drive: 

The drive begins with the rower’s heels pushing into the foot stretcher in order to drive the legs backward. Once the legs are straightened, and if in a sweeping boat, the torso is straight, then the rower will force a layback, where the rower positions their back at a 120 degree angle. Then, in a quick motion, the rower pulls the oar handle into their chest.

The recovery:

As soon as the oar hits the sternum, Hylton rowers are instructed to do an action called “quick arms away” where the rower will punch their oar out to get their arm straight. Once straightened, the rower will bend their hips forward, and once the body is over the legs, the rower will slowly bend the legs to get back up to the catch.