Oklahoma City University's regatta keeps getting bigger

The Head of the Oklahoma regatta will field its largest number of participants yet, more than 1,500 rowers and paddlers.
by Ed Godfrey Published: September 26, 2012
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photo - Competitors are lit by the morning sun as they warm up before competing during the Oklahoma Regatta Festival at the Oklahoma River on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman Archives
Competitors are lit by the morning sun as they warm up before competing during the Oklahoma Regatta Festival at the Oklahoma River on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman Archives

Sculling is when each crew member rows with two oars. Sweeping is when each crew member rows with one oar.

“Ninety-nine percent of collegiate rowing in the United States is sweep rowing,” said Melanie Borger, the OCU women's rowing coach. “It's just traditionally been done that way for 100 years.

“The problem with that is it doesn't train young adults to be the best rowers they can be. They really need to be well versed in both rowing disciplines.”

Universities choose to participate in sweep rowing because it accommodates more athletes, Borger said.

In addition, the NCAA championships do not offer sculling races, she said.

Races in sweep rowing are held in eight-, four- and two-person boats. Making the eight-person crew is considered the most prestigious in collegiate rowing.

Sculling events involve crews of four rowers, pairs or individual races. They are more common in international competitions.

“There are more sculling events at world championships and at the Olympics than there are sweep events,” Borger said.

That's a big reason OCU stresses sculling.

“We are committed to training our athletes so they can compete on the national and international level and not just the collegiate level,” she said.

Another reason is simply fewer athletes. OCU, an NAIA school, has fewer rowers than other universities with women's rowing programs such as Oklahoma and Central Oklahoma, which concentrate primarily on its eight-person boats.

“More schools are embracing it (sculling) but they still don't emphasize it like we do, because quite frankly, the NCAA doesn't field sculling events,” Borger said.

“Coaches and rowers believe in it, but the system is not set up for that yet.”


by Ed Godfrey
Reporter Sr.
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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