PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Thousands of athletes and spectators flocked to the Schuylkill River for the final day of the Dad Vail Regatta. The rain forced organizers to cancel all lower-level races scheduled after 10:30 a.m. — but the gloomy weather certainly didn’t hamper the excitement of those competing.
“This is the weekend we’ve been training for all year,” said Kendall Wenzki, Drexel University crew captain.
Often described as the ‘crown jewel’ of collegiate rowing competitions, the Dad Vail Regatta, one of the world’s largest, wrapped up Saturday in Philadelphia.
“It means a lot to be part of Dad Vail,” said Ryan Carmody, Stetson University rowing captain. “This is one of the most prestigious regattas in the country.”
And though organizers flipped the competition schedule due to rainy conditions, the weather could not dampen the mood for athletes from more than 100 colleges and universities from across the U.S. and Canada.
“We’ve raced in this and worse, so we’re ready for anything,” Wenzski said.
And Wenzki, a native of South Jersey, says winning at home was especially exciting.
“It’s a huge honor to be part of this,” she said, “and to represent Drexel, as well.”
But this was a weekend celebrated by more than just the athletes themselves. Huddled under tents and rain gear, spectators lined the river to cheer on their favorite teams.
Organizers say the lessons learned on the water are carried off the boat, as well.
“The kids that come out and row face adversity. Today’s a perfect example,” said Jim Hanna, president of the Dad Vail Organizing Committee. “But they learn to overcome the challenges they face day-to-day in life. So rowing is a metaphor for life.”
And while gliding towards a gold medal is the goal, these athletes have discovered that true teamwork is what guides them there.
“When you’re on the water, you’re not only pulling for yourself,” Carmody said, “but for every other guy in the boat.”