Flamengo, Botafogo, Vasco da Gama and Fluminense. The names of Rio de Janeiro's soccer clubs are familiar to those who follow the sport worldwide. But many don't know that the first three started as rowing clubs in the 19th century and adopted soccer only at a later stage. Today they are multi-sport clubs.
 
Flamengo's sports complex sits just next to the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon where the Olympic regatta is taking place. It's a sprawling complex with multiple swimming pools, a gymnastics hall, several football fields and an indoor basketball court where the U.S. men's team is training during the Olympics. It also has a museum, chronicling the club's history.
 
(AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
 
Today Flamengo is above all famous for its soccer team and players like Brazilian legend Zico, but the rowing legacy is key to the club's identity.
 
Its official name is Clube de Regatas do Flamengo, or Flamengo regatta club. The original crest had an anchor and two oars and is still used by the Flamengo rowing team. The club's official song, chanted by fans at soccer games, makes several references to rowing.
 
(AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
 
There's no doubt Flamengo is proud of its rowing history. A wooden rowing boat with the inscription "1895" _ the year Flamengo was founded _ sits on the lawn next to the entrance. And spectators heading to the Olympic regatta pass by a statue on the banks of the lagoon depicting Flamengo's most famous rowing coach, Guilherme do Eirado Silva, better known as "Buck."
 
(AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
 
These days rowing doesn't have the same stature in Rio as it did in the club's beginnings when big crowds would follow the regattas against Botafogo and Vasco Da Gama on the lagoon.
"It's completely different now," says Flamengo's rowing director Edson Figueiredo. "Unfortunately."
He says nowadays only about 100 people turn up to watch state championship races against the local rivals.
 
Edson Figueiredo (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
 
Botafogo and Vasco da Gama also have sports facilities around the lagoon, but Flamengo's is the biggest, says club spokeswoman Raina Monteiro.
However, during the Olympics and Paralympics, Flamengo's rowers aren't able to practice on the lagoon. 
Except for two of them.
Fernanda Ferreira is competing for Brazil in the women's lightweight double sculls and Michel Pessanha is on Brazil's Paralympic team.
 
Fernanda Ferreira to the right. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
 

Its official name is Clube de Regatas do Flamengo, or Flamengo regatta club. The original crest had an anchor and two oars and is still used by the Flamengo rowing team. The club's official song, chanted by fans at soccer games, makes several references to rowing.