Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta underway on the Schuylkill River

Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta

May 11, 2012 3:16:54 PM PDT
Thousands of college crew teams are in town as a great rowing tradition returns to Philadelphia.

Cheers rang out across the Schuylkill River as qualifying races for the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta got underway on Friday morning.

More than 3,500 student athletes from 118 colleges and universities are competing this weekend on the 2,000 meter course, two miles north of Boat House Row.

"This one has a lot of history with rowing in general with John Kelly and the Schuylkill Navy," said Emily Henderson of Carnegie Mellon University. "It's great to be on the river itself."

"It's really the best race we go to. You can tell by just looking around so many vendors, almost like a carnival like atmosphere," said Angelo Labate of Fordham University.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter joined sponsors and supporters to welcome the largest collegiate regatta in North America.

"The city truly treasures, of course, this entire weekend," said Mayor Nutter.

Some of these student-athletes have rowed for years while others began their careers at college. It's a sport these athletes and parents have seen grow in popularity.

"I think it's growing, especially in Michigan where we have a lot of water, you see more and more teams getting larger, getting more active and more involved," said Susan and Mike Marshall, parents of a Grand Valley State student.

"In my home town of Pittsburgh it's become a really popular sport, versus the typical football and basketball. Even at school we're being recognized more for our successes," said Alaina Puff of Bucknell University.

You can watch coverage of the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta starting at 1:00 p.m. Saturday on ESPN 3. Coverage of the finals can be seen at 7:30 p.m. on both 6abc and ESPN3.com.