We identify, recruit and develop individuals with no prior rowing experience to become Olympic rowers.
Looking to get tested? Apply here!
Want to do something incredible and train to be the best in the world?
During sessions we’ll encourage and push each other to do as well as we can – whether this is on the water, ergs or during a weights session. We also enjoy a decent bit of banter between sessions – key for recovery!” Alice Baatz, Start Programme 2016
The British Rowing Start Programme gives you the opportunity to push yourself to achieve more than you thought you could, expand your horizons, and develop into a high-performance athlete.
You do not need any prior rowing experience; just the right physique and attitude to give rowing a go.
Between the Blades
Start not only aids your development as an athlete, but it also teaches you important life skills; resilience, teamwork, leadership, accountability, discipline, and many more. Our Between the Blades campaign explores the positive impact Start has had on our athletes’ lives outside of rowing, as well as why anyone with any background or experience, can sign up.
How the programme works
Start is a specialist talent identification programme that trains and develops athletes for the GB Rowing Team. All Start athletes benefit from access to world-class coaches and facilities that support their development.
Telling the story of British Rowing's Start Programme. Follow our journey @BritishRowing on our social channels!
We have a number of centres around the UK that provide a training base for athletes. Each centre is “hosted” by the local rowing club and all Start rowers will be a member of their host club. If there is not a centre local to you, it is sometimes possible to train from a satellite club
“Start has been solely responsible for shaping me into the rower I am today.” Matt Jenner, Start Programme 2016
The GB Rowing Team employs a full-time professional coach in each Start centre who is responsible for the recruitment and development of athletes. As part of this development, all Start rowers attend regular training and testing camps to monitor athletes’ progression. These take place in the UK and overseas.
Start was established in 2001 with funding from the National Lottery. It is one of the most successful Olympic sport talent ID programmes for Great Britain.
How do you apply to join the programme?
We are looking for females 5’10 and taller aged between 14-22 years old, and males 6’2 and taller aged between 14-20. If you think you have what it takes, please click on the link below to fill out an application form.
If you don’t meet these criteria, but you are already rowing, the Performance Talent programme offers support to talented rowers aged 15-22 . Click here for more details.
Do I need rowing experience?
I don’t meet your criteria. Does this mean I cannot row for Great Britain?
No! Start is just one way to begin a rowing career. Many of our Olympians learnt to row at school, university or a local club. Find out about the other ways to get into rowing here.
Why do you have age criteria?
To become an Olympian takes time so we want to recruit people that have the years ahead of them to learn and develop the skills that can take them to the podium.
Why do you have a minimum height criteria?
Many of the most successful rowers are tall. This is because their long levers (arms and legs) help to gain maximum propulsion and make the boat go faster. Start is therefore looking for people with this attribute.
I am tall enough, but I am not yet 14 years old. Why can’t I be tested?
You will still have a lot of growing and developing to do, so if you are under 14 years of age we would advise you to take part in a broad range of sporting activities to develop your general fitness and co-ordination. We’d love to hear from you once you are old enough so please get in touch with us then!
I don’t live close to a Start centre, but I meet the minimum testing criteria. Can I still be tested?
Yes, of course. We would like to work with anyone that shows Olympic potential. We will try to work with anyone who has good test results including being a “satellite athlete” with a local rowing club.
If I am selected onto Start, how often will I need to train?
Your Start coach will set your training programme depending on your age and where you are in your rowing development. You will need to fit your training around other commitments such as school/college so expect some early mornings! For example, a 14 year old might train four times per week, whereas a school leaver would be aiming for 12 sessions per week.
I was not selected onto the programme, but I still really want to row. What should I do?
You can still learn to row and perform to a high standard. Use the Club Finder to find your nearest club.