Jody Pope is the membership/events director, of USRowing. The 134th USRowing National Championship Regatta will be held at Eagle Creek Reservoir at Eagle Creek Park on July 20-24.
Q: How was Eagle Creek selected for the Championships?
A: Eagle Creek was selected because there are only about five venues total to pick from in the country. We have the big finish tower on the course, too. There are only two other courses that have towers. The course also has a 1.25-mile straightaway and is wide enough for seven boats to fit across for the competition. You can't have lots of power boats on course water either, like say at Geist, otherwise the boats would get totally swamped, so Eagle Creek is ideal. There are just lots of pluses to this course. Also, Indianapolis is centrally located and our USRowing offices are here so cost is cut down. It's also a really great venue because the airport and hotels are close.
Q: How many athletes will be competing and in what kind of events?
A: One thousand two hundred and fifty athletes will compete, actually. It's the largest National Championship Regatta we've ever held here and Indianapolis has hosted this about 15 times. There will be a lot of juniors here including our junior women's U.S. national team consisting of 14 girls who will be competing. They've been here working out with the Indianapolis Rowing Club at Eagle Creek. This event is important for them because it acts as a tune-up for the World Championships next week in Germany.
Q: What does a win mean for the competitors? Why is this an important regatta?
A: It is the National Championships, so they are deemed "National Champions." It's a great title. There is no money involved, just the love of sport. Even though it's a nationals event we have people from Mexico, Guatemala, Canada and one woman from Czechoslovakia coming to compete. Eighty-five National Championship awards will be given. We have from juniors B single, which is under 16 years of age who are still developing, to past National Champions and Olympians - elite rowers - who will be here.
Q: What will rowers do while in Indianapolis? Gondola rides on the canal?
A: They do have a lot of down time due to the race schedule. They may race in the morning and then not again until late in the day or the next day. People will mostly stay on the Westside, but we recommend they check out Broad Ripple and see downtown, realize we're more than a strip mall city, that there's more than chain restaurants. We hope to get them to the NCAA Hall of Fame, too.
Q: Why watch rowing?
A: The only admission is the park admission. Racing takes place all day long from 8 a.m-5 p.m., with heats starting every seven minutes, and it's very casual. There are concessions, but you bring your own food and check it out for an hour or two. Every Olympian from the 2004 games has rowed in Indianapolis at some point in their career, so it's a great opportunity to see top rowing.
Eagle Creek Reservoir is located at 7840 E. 56th St. Admission to the regatta is free with admission. $3 per car on weekdays, $5 on weekends.