By Garth Shanklin
The waters of Harsha Lake in Bethel will once again be filled with rowers racing toward a championship title.
The US Rowing Club Nationals return to Bethel for a third straight year this week, with qualifying rounds beginning on Wednesday, July 12 and the final day of competition on Sunday, July 16.
A record 1,753 different entries from 115 clubs will compete in the event, roughly 200 more entries than in 2016.
Twenty-seven states will be represented, along with Canada and a club from Valparaíso, Chile, 70 miles from Santiago.
Several Olympians will be competing throughout the week. Meghan O’Leary and Ellen Tomek teamed up for the 2016 Olympic games, but they will compete against each other in the Senior/Elite single sculls event, while 2012 Bronze medalist Kara Kohler will compete in the women’s single sculls event, along with Felice Mueller, who placed fourth in the women’s pair in the 2016 Olympics.
Two Cincinnati natives who are members of the US National team will compete in the event. Thomas Graves was a member of the national team in 2009 and 2011. He will race in the single sculls, along with John Graves, another Cincinnati native.
Graves was on the National team from 2013-2015 and will race as the only entrant from the Craftsbury Sculling Center.
Based out of Newport, Kentucky, the Cincinnati Junior Rowing Club will enter 11 events in 2017. The men’s and women’s rowing squads are coming off top-15 finishes in this event last season, with the men finishing seventh overall in the final standings for the points trophy.
Jim Comodeca, Executive Director of the Clermont County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, touted the economic impact on the county as one of the reasons the county is excited to host the event again in 2017.
“We are honored to once again welcome athletes, coaches, officials, parents and friends of the rowing community from all across the US to Harsha Lake in Clermont County for the USRowing Club Nationals,” Comodeca said in a statement. “The economic impact to our community from hosting events like the USRowing Club Nationals is staggering. And such could never be accomplished without the support and cooperation of all of our volunteers, government leaders and sponsors. I hope folks take notice and provide a warm welcome this week to all the visitors to Clermont County.”
As was the case in 2016, volunteers are expected to play a huge role in the 2017 event. Individuals representing organizations ranging from the Cincinnati Rowing Club, Love Your Lungs, Clermont Masters, Bethel-Tate Soccer and Clermont Northeastern have signed up to be volunteers at the lake during the races.
In addition to the action in the water, the annual college fair will once again be held. This year’s event will be at the Maupin Pavilion on Harsha Lake from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 16.