By CBS3 Staff

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A slight overcast but otherwise good weather along Kelly means smooth sailing on the Schulkill River. But along the banks, tension as rowers readied their boats and their bodies for the Dad Vail Regatta.

Nearly 100 college teams from across the United States and Canada went oar to oar in the 81st annual race on Saturday.

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Local riders say they know the bet lanes from practicing on the river but visiting athletes were equally as confident for the race.

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Within the competition there’s a story of inspiration. Taylor Roberts was the first person to para-row in the race last year, making this collegiate regatta the first to include the category, according to organizers.

A car crash left Roberts paralyzed from the waist down.

Following the accident she turned to rowing to help her cope, now she is coordinating the regatta’s first para-rowing events this year.

“To return the favor to other rowers is the best reward I could’ve received,” said Roberts.

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To spectators, it’s a show, watching the teams now gracefully in sync. But the athletes say it is a different feeling inside the boat.

“It’s a battle, you’re pushing your body to limits you’ve never reached before,” said Jefferson University Women’s Rowing Head Coach Chris O’Brien.

Hoping to secure a win, Temple University men’s team was the defending champion for the heavyweight eight title.

“They had a great year, fun watching them,” said Bill Gennaro, father of a Temple University rower.

The Owls came away with another title as both the men’s and women’s team won.

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For results of this years race visit the Dad Vail Regatta website.