In an exciting announcement, the discipline of Beach Sprint Rowing will make its Olympic Games debut at the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and World Rowing have today announced the addition of Beach Sprint Rowing to the Olympic program for the 2028 Olympic Games. This inclusion of the emerging discipline marks a significant milestone in the history of rowing.
The decision to introduce Beach Sprint Rowing, a form of the Coastal Rowing discipline, at the 2028 Olympics aligns with LA28’s commitment to innovation, sustainability, and promoting sports that celebrate both athleticism and the natural beauty of the host city. Los Angeles, renowned for its stunning coastline and vibrant rowing community, is the perfect backdrop for the debut of this exhilarating discipline.
For Rowing Canada Aviron (RCA) Director of High Performance Adam Parfitt, the inclusion of Coastal Rowing at the 2028 Olympics presents an exciting opportunity to grow the nation’s elite Coastal Rowing program. It provides a newfound motivation for the emerging generation of coastal rowers to become Olympians.
“Beach Sprint Rowing is an exciting part of our sport’s landscape and today’s announcement of inclusion at the LA 2028 Olympics is a significant moment for our sport,” Parfitt said. “We are thrilled to have both Classic Rowing and Beach Sprint Rowing showcased at an Olympic Games.”
Coastal rowing is a rapidly growing discipline in Canada and around the world, offering a new and exciting way for athletes to engage in the sport of rowing. This emerging sport can be likened to the evolution of other popular activities, such as beach volleyball from indoor volleyball and mountain biking from cycling. Beach Sprint Rowing provides a thrilling adventure ride for spectators and competitors alike.
The boats used in Beach Sprint rowing include singles and doubles that require rowers to navigate tides, currents, rough waters, and other marine traffic, in addition to mastering the necessary equipment and techniques.
RCA CEO Terry Dillon believes the inclusion of Beach Sprint Rowing in the next Olympic quadrennial will have positive impacts across the nation and will see the continued implementation of coastal rowing programs in our communities.
“Beach Sprint Rowing is an exciting development of our beloved sport and has the opportunity to reach a new generation of sport lovers, who are looking for a new challenge,” Dillon said. “We at RCA are working with our Provincial Associations and Member Clubs to bring rowing to new communities that don’t have bodies of water suitable for Classic Rowing yet have lakes or coastline that is suitable for Coastal and Beach Sprints. We have that in Canada and so we expect to attract more diversity in the types of athletes that can access the new disciplines.”
Canadian coastal rowers Aubrey Oldham and Sarah Pidgen (Don Rowing Club) have been at the forefront of the discipline, representing Canada at the 2023 World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals in Barletta, Italy earlier this month.
Representing one’s country is an honour cherished by athletes worldwide, and Oldham and Pidgen are no exception as they reflect on the privilege of wearing the Maple Leaf in coastal rowing.
“It is so great to represent Canada, it is always a special moment, and you just can’t take it for granted. Aubrey and I have witnessed the growth of Coastal Rowing firsthand, which has been one of the nice things,” Pidgen said. “Beach sprints, even though it is new, ticks a lot of boxes of what the IOC are looking for. It is fast-paced, and really exciting for the spectator. But it is also more accessible for other countries that have typically not been able to compete in flatwater rowing. It opens the opportunities for anyone who has access to a coastline, or any body of water to compete.”
With the possibility of Canadian Olympians in coastal rowing in the future, Oldham acknowledged the significance of representing Canada, not only as a personal achievement but also as a means to continue to inspire and motivate other rowers to explore the coastal discipline.
“Being part of Team Canada in coastal rowing carries a responsibility. It’s about paving the way for future generations and encouraging more athletes to embrace this exciting form of rowing,” Oldham said. “I hope our performances can inspire others to take up the challenge and push the boundaries in coastal rowing.”
The inclusion of Beach Sprint Rowing is expected to draw elite athletes and rowing enthusiasts to the discipline that will not only provide a unique and exciting experience for competitors but also engage viewers with its spectacular coastal settings and unpredictable race dynamics. As the world awaits the opening ceremony of the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics, Coastal Rowing’s introduction promises to be a landmark moment, inspiring a new generation of rowers and fans.
To learn more about Coastal Rowing, click here.