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The Crum Regatta Returns (Again)

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On April 22, Swarthmore students will race down Crum Creek for the first time in two years. The Crum Regatta is a close to 50-year-old Swarthmore tradition where students race down the creek in self-made boats and rafts. Teams are eligible for a variety of awards even if they are unable to win the race — or even float their boats. Past awards include “most spirited” and “best approach.” 

In the Spring of 2019, the Office of Student Engagement (OSE) started hosting the event and moved it from the Fall semester to the Spring. The regatta was previously hosted by the College’s Advancement Team and Registrar’s Office. Due to the pandemic, the last time OSE was able to host the regatta was the Spring of 2019. Two years later, the regatta is set to return with new additions. 

In an interview with The Phoenix, Assistant Director of Student Activities and Leadership Ben Shalk spoke about the upcoming Crum Regatta on April 22. He also spoke about OSE’s plans to make the regatta more exciting for newer students. 

“This is realistically the first Spring since 2019 that we are able to host the regatta. We decided to add a small craft race to be more inclusive of student preferences since it can take quite a while to design a large craft,” Shalk said. 

What makes this year’s regatta even more special is that it is occurring during Swatstruck, the admitted students program on April 22. This means that the Class of 2026 and their families will be able to watch the races.

“We encourage current students to come down and welcome newly admitted students who are attending Swatstruck that day!” said Shalk. 

Jordan Ando ‘22 reflected on his participation in the event in 2019, explaining that the Crum Regatta is a popular tradition among Swatties for its challenging, yet community-building nature.

“It was a lot of fun! My friend, Simon Moore (‘22), and I spent the weekend in the makerspace before the Regatta making what can best be described as a two-person dinghy out of duct tape, plastic, pvc tubing, and scrap wood. I think we spent about 20 dollars in total on materials,” Ando recalled. 

Despite the outcome of the race, Ando described the race as an enjoyable learning moment. 

“In the actual race, we came dead last because it turns out that the best way to get speed is to have a bunch of friends pulling one person on something that floats, rather than two heavy people paddling themselves. Still, it was a really fun and unique experience!” he admitted. 

Shalk emphasized the tradition as particularly meaningful due to its location and message to students. Not only is the regatta hosted in our very own Crum Woods, but it encourages Swatties to reuse materials. 

“Students also build large crafts for the race from recycled and upcycled materials so we encourage participation in the College’s sustainability goals,” Shalk said. 

First-year student Katherine Kihiczak ’25 expressed her interest in trying all of Swarthmore’s traditions, referencing the Swarthmore College Bucket List

“The Crum Regatta looks like it would be quite fun! I might give it the old college try now that they’ve added the mini craft race,” Kihiczak said. 
If students are looking for a fun and meaningful Swarthmore tradition to partake in, they can sign up for the Crum Regatta here by Wednesday, April 20, at 5 p.m.

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