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University of Pennsylvania Crew team preparing to put a shell into Schuylkill River, 1904.
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Crew team, 1904, preparing to put shell into Schuylkill River in front of boathouse.

Credit: Courtesy of the University Archives and Records Center, University of Pennsylvania Archives

To distance themselves from tough working-class rowers, college men from elite families established rowing clubs with boat houses along the banks of the Schuylkill and raced sleek four- and eight-man shells, and later single and double sculls. In 1858 they established the Schuylkill Navy - today the nation's oldest body overseeing amateur sports - to sanction races, set rules, settle disputes, and promote camaraderie among rowers.

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