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            "Marathon runners talk about hitting "the wall" at the twenty-third mile of the race. What rowers confront isn't a wall; it is a hole -- an abyss of pain, which opens up in the second minute of the race" (Seabrook). The young oarsmen, whom one would watch on an early Saturday morning, are very unique athletes. The athletes on the water are more completely team members than any other athletes. Their every move must be absolutely coordinated with those of their teammates. However, in seeming contradiction, no athlete is more alone than the oarsmen is, for the oarsmen, in essence, competes only against himself. He must conquer his own will and subjugate himself fully for the good of the crew. If the boat slows, their first thought must be, "What am I doing wrong?" No matter how tired or achy their body gets, no matter how much their lungs cry for oxygen, the oarsmen can rely only on themselves. There is no substitution for them during the middle of a race. If they do not perform well, their team loses. It is starkly simple.
             Rowing is one of the oldest and most physically challenging sports in existence. It originated not as a sport, but as a means of warfare and transportation. All of the major ancient civilizations used rowing to advance their cultures. The battles between the Persians and the Athenians were fought in huge naval battles. The victors of these battles were those who could maneuver the quickest on the water to avoid enemy fire. The Athenians took control when they incorporated a form of a moving slide which enabled them to use the force of their legs to move the boat faster on the water (Mathers). Vikings used ships that were equipped for multiple oarsmen.
             The sport of rowing unofficially "began in the 1700's when watermen would race in long barges on the river Thames in England" (Mathers). The Yale-Harvard race on the Charles River marked the beginning of competitive rowing in the United States in 1852.

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