I am a strong Australian rower looking at top US universities.
Yale is a fantastic place to row. First, it is much easier to combine study and training in the US. Because student-athletes are required to maintain a stipulated GPA, the Ivies are incentivized to make training and study manageable. This means that exams are easily rescheduled, and training is organized around classes (although rowers generally can’t take classes that begin after 4pm). Second, the standard of rowing is extremely high. Last year Yale’s top boat was almost entirely comprised of U23 world champions/competitors, and their other boats were similarly competitive. To be totally candid, American rowing sometimes emphasizes power over technique–but this is generally exaggerated by Australian coaches. In reality, Yale rowers were able to transition between college and national team technique quite readily. Finally, Yale rowers enjoy rich social lives–they tend to have social cache on campus–and have access to a large network of proud alumni. If you meet the admissions department’s academic standards, then you should be capable of good grades, strong rowing performance, and have plenty of time for fun. The team has undergone a large cultural shift in recent years, and this has led to better performance, happier rowers, and a fundamentally mature and supportive environment. Although life as a student-athlete is demanding, Yale’s rowing team really does provide a perfect environment for ambitious rowers.