Drained lake challenges Iowa State Crew Club


Courtesy Photo by Iowa State Crew Club

Courtesy of the Iowa State Crew club.

Elyse Ogbourne

The Iowa State Crew Club faces multiple challenges coming into the 2018-19 school year.

The club’s adviser retired last month and one boat needs repairs following a crash. On top of that, Hickory Grove, the lake where the club practices, was drained in August.

“They’re draining it and working on it, trenching it and a whole bunch of other stuff,” said the club’s co-president, Kyle Wendt. “That’s going to take about two years.”

They originally planned to drain Hickory Grove around Labor-Day weekend.

“They actually [drained the lake] a month early, so we didn’t get to practice at all,” said Levi Ballard, Crew Club’s other co-president.

Before training at Hickory Grove, the club used to practice at Big Creek, a lake about 20 miles south of campus. They started practicing at Hickory Grove three or four years ago when shifting Iowa Department of Natural Resources laws made it so they couldn’t store their boats at Big Creek anymore.

Because Hickory Grove is no longer an option for practice, the club currently rents a truck from the university to take their boats to Big Creek every Saturday.

Instead of training almost every night of the week, the club only practices once a week.

“We can’t practice as much as we have in the past,” Ballard said. “We won’t be able to get ready for regattas — which are the events we go to — quite as well.”

Crew Club usually competes in several regattas throughout the year, starting in mid-September. This year, because of limited practice time, the club will not be able to start competing until the end of October.

The draining of Hickory Grove has been hard on the club.

“The seniors and juniors were disappointed because we won’t get to have a regular season anymore because we’ll graduate,” Wendt said. “The freshmen and sophomores from last year [are unhappy], because we can’t have a regular season. It’s going to be two years until we can have a regular season again, unless something else changes.”

Crew Club is currently working with the sport club director and Iowa State to see if they can get university backing. Iowa State lawyers are also working with the club to see if they can park their boats at Big Creek, without having the liability placed on Big Creek.

If that is successful, Crew Club members hope to return to a more regular practice routine.

“We could have practice as normal, since it’s only about 15 minutes away, which is about the same distance,” Wendt said. “So we could have practice in the evenings like we usually do.

“At least set it up for next year, so that way we can have a regular season next year and only have this year be kinda weird.”