There are two kinds of rowing: sculling and sweep. In sculling each rower has two oars and in sweep each rower has one oar. The basic body movement of the stroke is the same; the use of arms and hands differs. A sweeping boat is named for the number of rowers: pair, four, and eight. Sculling boats are also named for the number of rowers, but using a different nomenclature: single, double, quadruple and octuple.
For both types of rowing, the rower is going "backwards" such that the bow of the boat and the direction of movement is behind the rower.
BODY AND MIND
Once a rower has learned the basics of the rowing stroke and is comfortable in a boat, rowing is an excellent all-around form of exercise. But a person does not have to be an aerobic powerhouse to row well. As Homer said of the rowers in Greek war boats, "Tis more by art than numerous strokes." In addition to aerobic conditioning, rowing works just about all the major muscles. This sport engages the mind and body together. With each stroke, one assesses and works on making the next stroke better. It is at once both technically interesting and meditative.
Photo credit: George Benson, Grand River, July 2007