OAK RIDGE (WATE) – The 2017 US Rowing Masters National Championships are in Oak Ridge this week.
Melton Hill Lake will be busy for the next four days at more than 3,000 rowers converge on the water. It’s an all out sprint to the finish line for the professionals as they make every stroke count.
“These rowers come out, they’ve been training really hard. They have heats in the morning and they hopefully will make it to finals in the afternoon,” said Sarah McAuliffe with the Oak Ridge Rowing Association.
McAuliffe says the city of Oak Ridge is benefiting from all of the visitors.
“They’re eating here, they’re staying here, they’re shopping here. They’re just getting to know the city and the history behind it too,” said McAuliffe. “They’re driving the long distance to come to Oak Ridge and they’re loving it. This is everyone’s favorite rowing venue. Everyone wants to come here. So when it was announced here, all the masters wanted to participate in it.”
Mike Verlin is a reigning champion from New York. He says he knows how fierce the competition can be out there on the water.
“It’s the national championship. So it’s a little bit more prestigious. Everybody wants to have that feeling of winning,” said Verlin. “Nobody is going to lay down and let you win. that’s part of it. When you win, you’ve accomplished something.”
Ideal racing conditions and the calm water at Melton Hill Lake are what Oak Ridge says makes it one of the best rowing courses in the entire country.
“Everyone wants to come to Oak Ridge because we have flat water and we have our new 8 lane course,” said McAuliffe.
Many of these competitors are hoping they have what it takes to win a national title. They are competing in more than 200 categories. The National Championships will wrap up on Sunday.