Our History

Founded in 2005 by 12 rowers as a team for Chicago’s Gay Games, Chicago Rowing Union (CRU) is proud to be the Midwest's one and only lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rowing organization - one of a few such clubs in the world. Our membership is a diverse group of men and women from varied backgrounds, age ranges, and experience levels. Whether you are a seasoned rower or new to the sport, we have a spot for you! And being from the LGBT community is not a requirement – we are open to all. Anyone who wants a great workout and a true sense of camaraderie and teamwork will enjoy membership in our club.

Originally named Qrew Chicago, the team’s name changed to Chicago Rowing Union in 2009. Our season runs from April through October, with annual winter indoor sessions and competitions in the Midwest, around the nation, and even some international races too!

Where We Practice

Dammrich Rowing Center

3220 W. Oakton, Skokie, IL

This facility houses indoor rowing machines and rowing tanks to simulate on-the-water practices. It is next to the Chicago River and includes boats and a launch onto the North Branch of the Chicago River. Need a lift? All of our practicing squads offer car pools from various city neighborhoods.

How to Join

New members without experience must enroll in our Learn to Row program, or complete a comparable program at another club, before joining our novice team. Experienced rowers and coxswains are welcomed to join the club during the season. Please contact us with any questions.

We welcome collegiate rowers and coxswains home for the summer, looking to stay in shape and active in the sport during breaks. We also welcome newly graduated rowers who wish to continue in the sport.

We recommend that you consult with your physician before joining, as this sport can be incredibly tough and demanding on the body.


Rowing is a very demanding sport that absolutely requires teamwork and commitment to attend practices and races. There is an old crew saying that goes "You are only as good as your weakest rower." Therefore, we push ourselves as a group for constant improvement. The rewards both physically and mentally are amazing; not to mention the camaraderie that is built among the team.