State Championship Rowers Meet at Benderson This Weekend

Some 1,800 athletes are set to converge on Nathan Benderson Park this weekend — April 27-28th — for the FSRA Sweep Championships.

Once you know what that means, you’ll want to be there.

The FSRA is the Florida Scholastic Rowing Association, which organizes and promotes high school rowers and rowing clubs throughout the state. This weekend’s regatta at Benderson is the culmination of sweeps competitions that began in January, and will be the largest event of the season.

“Sweeps,” by the way, refers one of the two disciplines of rowing — the other is “sculls.”

In sweeps, rowers grasp one oar with both hands. In sculls, each team member uses two oars. Elite teams can manage 34-38 strokes per minute, which grows in awesomeness when you consider that each stroke has four distinct parts: Catch, Drive, Finish, and Recovery. (More here.)

[clearboth]Boats used in sweeps hold crews of two, four or eight rowers. Pairs and fours may or may not have a coxswain. Eights always have a coxswain. The coxswain (pronounced “cox’n”) sits in the stern of the boat, steers it, and coaches the rowers. With their backs to the bow, the rowers directly face the coxswain.

This weekend’s event will see 43 schools and clubs from all around the state, including two local teams, Sarasota Crew and Sarasota Scullers. Teams of fours and eights are separated by gender and into weight divisions (light and heavy).

Winners at this statewide event could continue to Nationals, coming in May and June.

The event should draw quite a crowd. To accommodate everyone there will be grandstands, an air-conditioned hospitality tent, picnic tables and umbrellas, as well as two huge jumbotrons to follow the action. In the “Vendor Village,” 22 vendors will be offering food, beverages and merchandise for sale.

[clearboth]Victors receive their trophies and awards after each race. The finals for State Champion will take place on Sunday. The overall team trophy is given out at the end of the day, depending on which team has the most points based on the results of the weekend’s previous races.

There’s a lot more to the art and sport of rowing. You can learn a lot here. One tip for those new to regattas: Most likely, the crew that’s making it look easy is the one doing the best job.

Working to get this all to happen will be 180 volunteers. If you’d like to volunteer for future events, contact Volunteer Coordinator John Krotec at

Getting there:

Map link for Nathan Benderson Park


  • Saturday:  8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

  • Sunday:     8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Parking: Park along Cattlemen Road. Enter via University Parkway and Cattlemen, or via Fruitville and Cattlemen. (Access from Honore is currently unavailable).