The Lehigh men's varsity four A holds onto first place with tight competition throughout until 150 meters or so left when they started to pull away in the finals of the Kerr Cup on Saturday, April 16, 2016 in Philadelphia. This was the 50th annual Kerr Cup. (Michael Procida/B&W Staff)

Lehigh rowing competes in 50th annual Kerr Cup

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The semi-centennial rowing of the Kerr Cup regatta took place this past weekend in Philadelphia on the Schuylkill River.

The regatta was named for Drexel University’s former coach, surgeon and hall-of-fame inductee Thomas J. Kerr, who passed away in 1988. Despite his passing, his widow and family still attend the event every year to congratulate the winners, according to the race’s website.

Reasons for naming the regatta after Kerr is because he — an Olympic rower in the men’s four in 1932 — was credited with starting Drexel’s rowing program in the fall of 1957. He was the head coach, team physician and surgeon until his retirement in the spring of 1969.

Kerr was on several rowing associations both local to the Philadelphia area and nationally. Kerr himself rowed at Syracuse University and was the freshman coach while he attended medical school. In 1967, according to the Kerr Cup’s website, Drexel’s alumni association started the Kerr Cup named in his honor.

The regatta, which is headquartered at the boathouse of Drexel’s rowing program, continues to occur, featuring the men’s heavyweight varsity eight race each year.

The participation for Lehigh crew overall in the past couple of years has shrunk, which has lead to a decrease in participation at the Kerr Cup. Lehigh’s times have gotten slower in some of its races over the past two years as well.

Women’s varsity eight had a time under 6:30.0 in 2014 and was around seven minutes this year. The men’s team was racing eights in 2014, but between 2015 and 2016, Lehigh men’s varsity four shaved around 50 seconds off their heat time, showing drastic improvement and hitting its marks this year to get a 2,000-meter time in the 6:40s. This translates to a split, or average time per 500 meters, in the 1:40s.

Over the past two years, the women’s varsity and second varsity eights have stayed somewhat consistent in their timing. With the race this coming weekend, Lehigh is hoping to be at full force to go up against College of the Holy Cross and Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, at Rutgers’ main campus.

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