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Lightweight rowing was such a big part of my life for 6 years which is why this video was so difficult for me to film. As I say in the video, lightweight rowing ultimately wasn’t for me, but I know that’s not the case for everyone. I knew I needed to explain my story with rowing lightweight to inform you all, especially the ones considering rowing lightweight in college. Sorry if this came out disjointed and all over the place. At the end of the day I just want everyone to be confident, safe, and happy.

my lightweight rowing video about NCAA

Instagram: @gretchengeraghty | Snapchat: gretchennnnn

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46 replies
  1. Hannah Alm
    Hannah Alm says:

    i am so proud that you have decided to share your story, however as you said you should’ve never been a lightweight as a 5’9” female. i’m so sorry you had to suffer through this, but don’t discourage girls under 5’6” to row ltwt!!! i have had numerous opportunities as a lightweight tower being 5’6” talk to a sports phycologists if you are considering ltwt rowing or if you are one and think you are unhealthy

  2. Watcher WLC
    Watcher WLC says:

    Wrestling, yes, but also boxing and martial arts. That's to assess what competition class they belong to. Jockeys (in horse racing) are also weighed. You hear stories about skaters and gymnasts being weighed, but it's not required for assessing what competition class they belong to.

  3. Emily Green
    Emily Green says:

    We used to have weigh ins on my college dance team. Unfortunately it’s become a normal part of many college sports programs. A persons weight doesn’t have as much of a connection to how fit, healthy, athletic, or “skinny” a person is as our society makes it out to be.

  4. Pavica Kneedler
    Pavica Kneedler says:

    I rowed women's heavyweight in college and had a pretty good idea what was going on with the lightweights trying to make weight. I am sorry to hear that it continues to this day (I graduated in the 1990s) but am happy to hear that you are recovering from your experience. I was 5' 10" and weighed 175 although my coach was always pushing to try to get me up above 180. The problem I found, as have many others I know, is that when heavyweights stop rowing we often develop weight problems. You get used to eating such enormous calorie counts to keep up with the workouts that it becomes habit. Then you stop working out 3-4 hours a day and pack on the pounds. I loved rowing, but at competitive levels the extreme demands which are placed on your body are not natural for most athletes. Thank you for sharing your experience and best of luck!

  5. Harper
    Harper says:

    Thank you for being so frank about the weight issue. It is still the dirty little secret what women do for aesthetic or weight-limit sports.

  6. Sarah Đurić
    Sarah Đurić says:

    this is so interesting! I did competitive rowing in high school and was in girls varsity 1 boat and we did amazingly lol but I didn’t want that environment in college so I did D3. except,.. I had the opposite problem you did. I thought I was training as hard as I was in high school so I kept eating the same amount. unfortunately, I wasn’t. my coach is terrible and unkind and totally broke my spirit and my health. I started my freshman year at 5’5 129 and ended sophomore year at 5’6 160. and it wasn’t muscle 😂 fortunately, I quit and joined a professional team! so glad I got out of the toxic college environment.

  7. Jenna McFall
    Jenna McFall says:

    my junior team isn't very particuar about weight, but I know how collegiate teams can be. As an open weight its odd to see what a lot of Lightweights go through just to race. the type of personality that rowing takes (no matter the weight) is extremely hard to keep. Rowing breaks you in a good way. it can bring out your best, if you keep the right mindset.

  8. Valerie Traurig
    Valerie Traurig says:

    my CLUB team was trying to get me to go lightweight. I'm 145 lbs and it was a big no from me. Rowing is great but I 100% agree that 130 pounds is extremely hard to maintain as an athletic woman. Some of my friends would try to get down and would spend the week before a regatta eating just lettuce

  9. Erin Smith
    Erin Smith says:

    Hi, I am a current member of the Boston University Lightweight team. I just finished my freshman year and can quite honestly say that I have come back from college as a PROUD member of one of the best, in my opinion, teams not just in light weight rowing or rowing itself, but across the board in athletics. Not purely because of our success athletically, but because of honestly the members of the team who are synonymous with my best friends, the coaches who consistently show us so much love and positive parts of ourselves that we never knew were there, and finally because of a sport which has given me SO MUCH.

    I personally struggled with anorexia nervosa when I was 11 to 14 years old, FAR before I had ever touched an oar let alone one in a lightweight boat. Before rowing I was a swimmer, runner, and skier and grew up having played or tried almost every sport I came in contact with. However, it was not until I did lightweight rowing that I finally for the first time in years felt truly happy and positive about myself. It showed me what nutrition meant, that your body deserves fuel and how to fuel it. I can also say this has been the same exact experience for SEVERAL of my teammates and close friends. I am 5'7" and eat happily and healthily and the culture on my team around weight and image has been nothing but supportive, something all of me and my freshman class this past year talked about all the time as something we love in particular about BU lightweight rowing. I cannot speak for people who were on the team 4 years ago, but I can say as a current member, and as a member of the future upcoming years at BU, my team has made me so happy to be a part of.

    As for commitment, YES it is a D1 program. We train a lot and we train hard because our sport is our passion and any passion requires choosing it over other things at times. However, we still have so much fun and opportunities socially at school which my friends who are not athletes sometimes do not even get the chance to experience. We have dry season for 3 months, its really not too much of a tragedy and ultimately, its only enforced by ourselves of our own choice. Not the coaches or anyone else, we want to do well and substance doesn't really promote that. Training for 2 hours is what it takes. No olympian will turn to you and say that they train for an hour some days a week to achieve what they have in ANY sport. For instance, in the summer I do triathlons and my workouts for that which are completely of my own ambition and love range anywhere form 45 minutes to a little over 3.5 hours because they're distance sports. A marathon takes on average over 4 hours. Olympic distance triathlons which is what I race take about 2 hours to complete and they are so much fun.

    I apologize for the length of this comment but I just wanted to say that in full: I LOVE my sport and my team. Do not be scared to ever try it because of one person's cautionary tale. Sadness and hardship can come up in ANY situation or period in your life, it did for me in a completely different world than the one I am currently in. To all my teammates, our athletic staff and fellow lightweight and open weight athletes I love you and love what we work hard to do<3


    Erin, Proud member of BU 130 Row

    #CXXXstrong #CXXXlove

  10. Sara Altman
    Sara Altman says:

    I actually joined my college's club rowing team (very chill not the same as D1 at all lol) after being exposed to rowing by you! It breaks my heart that you went through this but I hope you know that I got into rowing because of you and my much more relaxed experience with rowing has brought me a lot of positive things in my life! So thank you for that!

  11. Payton P
    Payton P says:

    when I did competitive weightlifting the experience was very similar. I was lucky because I was not close to the max weight for my division but other girls would starve themselves for days or run an hour before weigh in sobbing over fear of not making weight.

  12. Avishai Dernis
    Avishai Dernis says:

    This seems like your truth about lightweight rowing. Lightweight rowing wasn't for you and that's when it becomes dangerous.

    I row as a lightweight male and I've never weighted above 146 lbs, I am trying to get up to consistently above 148 lbs but despite eating an average of 3500 cals a day I usually can't get above 144.

    I row lightweight because that's where I am entirely naturally. Although I can understand how women might feel even more pressure than men to row lightweight and make weight. It's a challenging issue for both genders. Although a completely valid solution (that I don't expect to see 😢) would be to get rid of women's and leave men's. It would also definitely help if lightweight was uped to 140 in college, same as men's jumps ten pounds between juniors and college.

    Not to say this is not an important story. Your experience is a valuable lesson for rowers and coaches and represents a need for change.

  13. Zach Ph
    Zach Ph says:

    Bro my dad used to cut weight for wrestling he would start at like 120-128 and get down to 112 his senior year he was very muscular but it was his senior year he said after he immediately gained up to like 135

  14. Nirosha Beekhuysen
    Nirosha Beekhuysen says:

    I rowed lightweight in high school. We were the 2nd ranked lightweight boat in the nation in 2014. I was the shortest girl in the boat at 5'7". There was another girl about 6+ feet tall. I cannot imagine what she went through looking back, and I can even see the repercussions of that today, as she chose to row in college as well. The parents tried to stop it (I can remember them being outraged that a girl that tall would have to cut to under 130), but it never did, even in college. I 100% struggle with an eating disorder today, and although I didn't row in college, I have an obsession with being under 130, or else I'm "fat". THIS VIDEO IS VERY ACCURATE.

  15. Sophia
    Sophia says:

    So proud of you for sharing this. I rowed in high school, and as a much bigger girl, I instantly noticed how unhealthy the atmosphere could get, and how much of a preference my coach had for lightweights. It made me so self conscious and made me feel so huge and ugly, especially when I was building muscle. Thank you for sharing.

  16. Margaret Hauck
    Margaret Hauck says:

    As someone who is 5’11 I have struggled comparing myself to my friends who are smaller than me and understandably weigh less and I can imagine how hard it was to experience that with rowing- thank you so much for talking about it, you’re amazing!

  17. Catrina M
    Catrina M says:

    the same thing that happened to lucy happened to my sister julia at UC berkley, she was doing regular rowing freshman year and hurt her back so badly and is now a junior and can no longer row (although she loved it). My sister caroline rowed at gonzaga until her second semester soph year when she wanted to go abroad and then decided to bow out. crazy how much rowing controls your life. your stories legit parallel

  18. Paige Evans
    Paige Evans says:

    I can't imagine this! sounds like a nightmare. Pole vault for track was similar with weigh in's to use certain poles. I just knew id never be able to keep it up in college! So horrible for body image. Great explanation of your experience <3

  19. Stella Naylor
    Stella Naylor says:

    I agree that lightweight rowing isn't for everyone and that it's really hard to talk about some aspects of it. I appreciate you sharing your experience but I do feel like you don't talk enough about why it's important and how it can work really well for some people. I think it all comes down to how much you want it and what makes you do the sport. For me I prioritized success in my boat over EVERYTHING. Idk if that's good or bad but that's how I felt. I do it because I love it and I love going fast. I am naturally about 145lbs but I was a lightweight last year so I could go to youth nats. I also stressed fractured my rib three weeks before nationals and lost my period. I have also had to do the spit cups, the sweat runs and many many juice cleanses to make weight. But I also want other lightweight rowers to know that they can do it if they love it enough and if they are a shorter person. Last year was the best year of my life because of my teammates and my experience as a lightweight. I also think it takes a very mentally strong and confident person to be a lightweight rower in college and I am glad I decided not to do it for the next four years. I love you Gretchen thanks for sharing this. I agree that the way people make weight is usually kinda sketch, but that it isn't always as emotional, or triggering, or scarring as this video makes it seem.

  20. GirlLovesHemp
    GirlLovesHemp says:

    This is a good topic, but oh my god girl, you need to take a class in public speaking. All of the salient info could have been given in under 10 minutes. You are all over the place, speak In incomplete sentences, include a lot of nonsensical stuff, and just speak like you’re uneducated. Please take a class on speaking skills!! I had to fast forward through most of your tripe.

  21. lydia diane
    lydia diane says:

    I’m a 5’9” rower as well, but I’m not a lightweight bc I realize how crazy it is and know that it wouldn’t be realistic because to be healthy and race your best, you have to be hydrated and fuel yourself well! There’s some lightweights on my team and while we were at USRowing nationals this past week, they were all starving themselves and not eating meals and sweat running everyday, and I felt so bad for them bc I hated to seen them in that position to be so hard on themselves to make weight! I have no idea how you did lightweight rowing in high school and early college years bc I know from self experience as well that it’s hard to be tall, have good health, strong muscles, etc. without being above 130 lbs! I’m so glad that you got yourself out of that horrible situation and are able to be truly healthy now (physically and mentally)! ❤️ thank you for sharing your story bc I know that young rowers always want to know stories of older and experienced girls and some need this big awakening that lightweight rowing is not for everyone! You stayed so strong during this video and that goes to show how well you’re doing now while living your life without restrictions, working out a lot, fueling yourself well, being around people who care about you!

  22. Annie Rius
    Annie Rius says:

    I️ cant express how important it is you shared YOUR truth! It’s inspiring how brave you were to speak out on something you felt uncomfortable sharing. This is your truth Gretchen, never apologize for speaking it! ❤️

  23. nina allegra
    nina allegra says:

    The weirdest part to me is that tall girls should weigh the same as short girls?! Like how is that a thing when it‘s just scientifically impossible? 🤦🏻‍♀️

  24. Claire M
    Claire M says:

    Gretchen! I have looked up to you for so long now, in so many ways that it's impossible to describe. This video really stuck with me and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it all week so I decided to write a blog post about your video and body image in general and I would love if you could take a minute to check it out! You are seriously such a light in this world and an inspiration to me and many others and I'm so grateful you do what you do here on YouTube 🙂 (that's the link to the post!)

  25. Mickaela Aleshia
    Mickaela Aleshia says:

    Wow. I applaud you for being so open about your experience. I’ve been following you and Lucy for forever and I definitely remember you seeming unhappy during that time. A major contrast to now and it makes me so happy that you are able to eat all the burgers and fries and cinnamon rolls freely! 🙂 I’m so happy you now have a better relationship with food! Your positive spirit shines through your videos Gretchen and I’m so glad I get to see it! Keep killing it girl!💕💕

  26. Christina Saccoccio
    Christina Saccoccio says:

    Girl…this was so brave of you! If anyone’s hates on you it’s literally a projection of their own insecurities. I read a few comments of criticism for speaking out as it wasn’t their particular experience. All I have to say about that is YOU ARENT THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE HUMAN RACE. You clearly said this was your experience and that some girls on the team didn’t have to develop unhealthy eating habits, but that many did. I challenge all those saying that this video is an unfair representation of this sport to MAKE YOUR OWN VIDEO, BY ALL MEANS! Just because this wasn’t your experience doesn’t take anything away from hers. Damn, these keyboard warriors might feel differently if they had the guts to put themselves out there. So sad that as women, we can’t understand and respect how these pressures to make weight for a sport may affect a persons mental health. One comment in particular said something to the effect of “I had two eating disorders in high school but light weight rowing was great for me….” that’s a person who is clearly projecting their disorder and anger into you. Most of the comments however are positive, which makes me happy. Great video, thanks for sharing your story and strength with all those who need to hear it 💜

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