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 LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ community is not a requirement – we are open to everyone who supports our mission, wants a challenging workout, and the rewarding experience of camaraderie and teamwork.


Our outdoor season runs from April through October, with annual winter indoor sessions and competitions in the Midwest, around the nation, and international regattas such as the Gay Games.

All CRU programs are adult, sweep rowing programs, for men and women ages 18 and up. [LINK TO PROGRAMS] We welcome rowers of all ages and walks of life. New members without experience must enroll in our Learn to Row [link to LTR] program, or complete a comparable program at another club before joining our novice team. Experienced rowers and coxswains are welcomed to join the club anytime during the season as are collegiate rowers and coxswains home for the summer.


CRU offers competitive pricing that speak to our mission of inclusivity. Member monthly dues pay for professional coaching, race entry fees, and boathouse costs as well as boat insurance, rental and equipment. Each member is responsible for purchasing their own uniform, meals and accommodations while traveling, and airfare to designated regattas (participation optional). If you have trouble paying for your monthly dues, we offer a limited amount of dues assistance for all programs except for Learn to Row. To learn more or to sign up for assistance, please contact the treasurer at treasurer@chicagorowingunion.org. Your request will remain confidential.

Physical Requirements

Rowing is one of the best sports for all ages and levels. That said, it is a very demanding sport that 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. For more information about rowing, [link to rowing educ].

Volunteering Commitment

CRU is a volunteer-run organization depending on members to keep the organization running. We require all of our members to volunteer for a specific amount of hours throughout the season and participate in fundraising activities and social events.


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.