Dad Vail Regatta wraps up along Schuylkill River in Fairmount Park

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A decades-old tradition continued Saturday along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park.

Crews from more than 100 schools gathered for the final day of rowing competition at the Dad Vail Regatta.

With every race came boisterous cheers from family members and teammates, as an entire season of preparation came down to a few crucial minutes on the water.

"Our entire season is Dad Vail, Dad Vail, Dad Vail," said Alex Campbell of Marquette University. "How can we beat these teams? How can we beat these teams that practice on this course, that practice twice a

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See video from the Action Cam at the Dad Vail Regatta.

It was a gorgeous morning for 125 collegiate teams to race on the Schuylkill.

But with storms in the forecast, organizers had to rearrange the schedule.

"The cream of our racing is the varsity eights, men and women," said Bard Negaard of the Dad Vail Regatta's Board of Directors. "So we're running them now, earlier in the day, so we make sure they do get to race."

While the Drexel Dragons won the overall points competition, it was Florida Tech that won the coveted Richard O'Brien trophy in the varsity heavyweight eight race.

The team from the University of Massachusetts took home the women's heavyweight eight title.

In the stands watching today? The team that won that same race 25 years ago.

"To be a part of this team was incredible," said Kit Gruver of Seattle. "And to look at them down on the dock, it totally comes back. It's fantastic."

The women's team from the University of Virginia reunited to mark 25 years since they won at Dad Vail. Seven of eight rowers showed up, along with their coach.

"Two flew from Seattle, one from the Bay area in California... Dallas... Denver...," said former U Va. Women's coach Brett Wilson, adding that, yes, this was is still a big deal 25 years later.

For some rowers who are seniors in college, this wasn't just their last Dad Vail, but also the end of their rowing careers.

"When you row in a boat, you're not really pulling for yourself or your coach, you're pulling for the other guys in the boat," said Sean McBride from the University of Delaware. "It's so team-focused. It's nothing that one person can do. It's got to be a team unit."

It was a bittersweet goodbye, they said - both to their team and to a sport they love.
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