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Penn Rowing Team Finally Reaches Shore

Photo by Alec Druggan / The Daily Pennsylvanian Credit: Chase Sutton

At long last, they’ve finally done it.

History was made this past Saturday as a boat from Penn women’s rowing finally reached the far shore of the Schuylkill River, putting an end to the decades-long debate on whether it was possible to fully cross the brackish waters. It’s still being determined whether the river’s current — experts reported that it was “like, basically nothing” earlier that morning — was a factor in this momentous feat.

In front of a record showing of 11 family members of the rowing team, the boat took only 115 minutes to cross the ‘Kill, the length of a decent romantic comedy. It finally hit the riverbank with a jolt that sent the distant crowd into a muted applause that the rowers couldn’t hear.

“Yeah I’m not really sure what happened,” said Walter James, a spectator who was walking his adorable dog nearby at the time.

The onlookers may not have appreciated the gravity of what occurred, but the rowers surely won’t forget writing their names in the history books anytime soon. 

“We’ve been training for this moment for so long,” junior Dominica Williams said. “In our last few runs, we came so close. Nothing will ever match the feeling of our boat finally slamming into land.”

“I’m just so proud of the guys,” coach Wesley Ng echoed. “Reaching land is a goal we’ve had for decades now, and honestly I’m not sure what we’re going to do now. I guess beating Princeton is always a good thing to strive for, though. But I don’t want to get carried away.”

With the women’s team making program history, Penn’s other rowing programs will look to follow suit, but they face their own specific challenges.

The men’s heavyweight team might have additional strength, but has previously only made it a little more than halfway across the river before its boat collapsed under the team’s weight.

None of the heavyweight rowers or coaches could be reached for comment after the lightweights’ achievement, but heavyweight coach Geoff Bond introduced a measure to the NCAA allowing for inflatable rafts to be used in place of the traditional wooden boat.

Readers may recall the brush with glory Penn lightweight rowing had last year, when it seemed like the team’s boat would achieve the impossible and make it across the murky river. However, rather than staying in the Philadelphia area, the team found themselves stranded far downriver in the Delaware Bay by the time the rowers realized what was going on.