Students Race in Annual Crum Regatta

On Friday, Apr. 19, students brought boats made out of plastic, rubber, wood, rope, and tape to the Crum Regatta, an annual Swarthmore tradition where students race homemade crafts down Crum Creek. The event was organized by the Office of Student Engagement (OSE), the Office of Sustainability, the MakerSpace, and Environmental Services (EVS). It generally takes place during Swatstruck, a program that gives admitted students the opportunity to explore campus and become more familiar with the college’s culture. Because of this timing, the event is attended by a combination of current Swarthmore students, faculty, staff, and prospective Swarthmore students. Jim Bock ’90, Vice President and Dean of Admissions at Swarthmore, explained his love for the Crum Regatta.  

“The Crum Regatta is just a way to celebrate joy and fun and a way to take a break from the rigors of the academics here at Swarthmore.”

The event is chaotic — by the finish line, most boats are falling apart. Bryan Rosario ’25  explained their team’s experimental construction process.

“It was honestly just messing around and finding out. We knew cardboard wasn’t a good idea. 

We tried our best to cover it with resin and it worked out somewhat until it started sinking but for a split second we were on top of the world,” they said.

Zoe Sperduto ’26 explained that although her boat eventually sank, her team’s efforts exceeded her expectations. 

“Our boat did not do well. We could barely float and ended up dragging it across the finish line and coming in last place by a lot,” she said. “However, we made it into the water and got someone on the bike which was farther than we thought we would make it in the race!”

Sperduto emphasized how rewarding the experience was and shared how her team bonded as a result of the Regatta. 

“The entire race, even as our boat was sinking and we were struggling to hold it above water, we were smiling and laughing and having a great time. I felt full of energy afterwards — it’s a goofy tradition and I feel like my team leaned into that,” she said.

Sperduto expressed that traditions such as Crum Regatta help build and maintain the college’s  spirit and culture, but expressed dissatisfaction at low student involvement in organizing Swarthmore traditions. 

“They promote pure fun and a sense of history and community in the student body, and I wish more students rallied behind them. It is disappointing to me that many Swarthmore traditions have become planned or managed by the administration rather than being student-led,” she said. 

“The fact that everything is now a part of some admissions event can make the traditions feel ingenuine and forced.” Sperduto continued. “However, I am not confident that the student body would be able to pull off traditions like the Regatta without the energy/resources from the administration — students are burnt out and not as enthusiastic about traditions as I assume they used to be.”

Bock, who was part of the planning process for the Regatta, emphasized how it can be a valuable experience for Swatstruck students to see more of Swarthmore and its traditions. 

“It’s a way to showcase another part of campus that hopefully students take advantage of, but particularly with our accepted students, to show them the variety and depth of the beauty of the campus,” he said.

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