Erin Rosenbaum ’11, a coxswain for the men’s lightweights, wears reminders of two of her rowing forebears, grandfather Pete ’48 and great-grandfather Francis ’20, on her rowing cap.
Erin Rosenbaum ’11, a coxswain for the men’s lightweights, wears reminders of two of her rowing forebears, grandfather Pete ’48 and great-grandfather Francis ’20, on her rowing cap.
Beverly Schaefer

There is a story in Princeton rowing lore that boils down to this: An alumnus went to the Western Union office to wire a little encouragement to the Tiger crew, but when he gave his message — “Row like hell and win” — the operator refused to transmit the vulgarity. Instead, the Princeton rowers received a puzzling instruction to “row like Helen win.”  

On race days, former coxswain Michael Rosenbaum ’81 sends that famous line via text message to his daughter Erin ’11, a coxswain for the men’s lightweights. The Rosenbaums are a part of another famous line in Princeton rowing: In addition to Erin and Michael, the family has produced two other coxswains, Pete ’48 and Francis ’20 — a remarkable string of four consecutive generations.

The significance of that family history is not lost on Erin, who wears two reminders on her cap. One is a small golden oar, inscribed with the numbers 1919-20. It was given to her great-grandfather in his senior year. The other is a gold pin with rowing charms, including a coxswain’s megaphone and a Princeton “P,” that her grandmother wore when she cheered from the shore in 1948.