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A Rockford tradition returns to the waters for the first time in 4 years

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — Rowers and spectators have had to wait through it all to finally see today. 

Through flood cancelations and the the COVID-19 pandemic, the waters are now open for competition for the first time in four years. 

"At Rock Regatta we're doing 5k races," said Olivia Holen, rower for Marquette University. "It's all different schools from around the country. We have high schools, colleges, and other age groups."

In order for teams to be successful, everyone must be on the same page. Holen, who is a Rockford native, makes it clear that teamwork makes the dreamwork. 

"We have to be a unit," said Holen. "You can't do this individually and you really need your teammates to do well."

Teamwork isn't the only thing that rowers need to be concerned with. Sometimes mother nature throws a curveball at them as well. 

"The wind," said Kathy Saitelbach, rower for North Suburban Crew out of Skokie, Ill. "We row on a kind of protected body of water and this is wide open, so it's always a little challenge for us."

One way to battle rough weather conditions is to be prepared. That's why Saitelbach and her club train hard. 

"We train for four days a week in the mornings and it's pretty intense," said Saitelbach. "We do longer pieces as we get closer to the Regatta season."

Through all the training and preparation, one thing remains true about the Head of the Rock Regatta, and that's unity for the love of the sport. 

"Once you join the rowing family, you're always in it," said Holen. "I think that's something that really stands in Rockford too. People who are coming here just want to support everybody."

Another year, another Head of the Rock Regatta in the books, and many more yet to come.

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