Competitors, fans return to Sarasota for NCAA Rowing Championship

College athletes and spectators from across the country are in Sarasota Memorial Day weekend for the NCAA Rowing Championship.

"These women are amazing athletes. They have worked really hard to get into these championships," said Tomás Herrera-Mishler, the president and CEO of Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associated. 

With 32 teams from across the country and more than 700 athletes, there’s some stiff competition. However, it’s a competition they’re excited to welcome back to Nathan Benderson Park. 

"This park was really built to host events just like this. It’s considered the best rowing facility in the Western Hemisphere," said Herrera-Mishler. "We’re so excited to see the park coming back to life, hosting all these fans from all over the nation."

But even the fiercest competitors need a break too.

"We’ve spoken with some families who are definitely staying for a week to 10 days. They’re taking advantage of being in Florida on the Gulf Coast," said Shelby Connett, the sports director with Visit Sarasota. 

READ Mote breaks ground on new education aquarium at Nathan Benderson Park

So the nearby hotels have been full and the restaurants and shops busy.

"It’s definitely coming at a time where we really need it," said Connett. "Not only are we coming off of the pandemic, but we’re also at the end of our high tourist season. Going into the summertime, it’s an even better time to have it here."

It’s the first national championship the park has hosted since the pandemic began. They are excited to see thousands of fans and competitors returning, and they are eager to welcome more. 


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