An investigation into determinants of successful rowing performance in terms of body morphology and stretcher position.
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Successful rowers competing at an elite level have been shown to have particular morphological characteristics which are associated with their success (Bourgois et al. 2001; Slater et al. 2005; Kerr et al. 2007). The aim of this investigation was to identify physical attributes which confer an advantage to 2km rowing ergometer performance in Scottish University rowers. The participants comprised 30 Open-class males, 20 lightweight males, 18 Open-class females and 4 lightweight females (including four World Class Start athletes) who were all competing for their Universities at the Championships. A secondary aim was to determine a relationship between peak acceleration in a single scull at three differing foot stretcher positions and body morphology. Six experience female scullers participated in this secondary experiment. Rowers competing at the Scottish University Indoor Rowing Championships 2007 and 2008 were measured for 39 anthropometric dimensions using standard International Society for the Advancement of Kinanthropometry (ISAK) protocol. Stature, muscle mass and mid thigh girth were correlated with performance in Open-Class men (p<0.05); biiliocristal breadth and humerus breadth were correlated with performance in lightweight men (p<0.05) and corrected forearm girth and sum of skinfolds were correlated with performance in females (p<0.05). After scaling for stature, distinct differences could be seen between the male and female athletes. A regression showed a relationship to exist (r2=0.64) between stature, body mass and peak acceleration in a single scull. In conclusion, Scottish University rowers showed distinct morphological characteristics which provide a competitive advantage in 2km ergometer rowing. A relationship was also established between morphology and peak acceleration in a single scull.