Debris in Bachman Hinders Crew Team


Synchronized paddles propel four Hockaday crew teammates around Bachman Lake.

Clunk. The canoe rams into a maze of branches; they are forced to weave through to continue their training exercise, which, after the thunderstorms that occurred last spring, never goes uninterrupted.

Heavy spring thunderstorms resulted in a buildup of debris on the lake as well as the formation of a sandbar, which caused part of the lake bottom to shift from five feet to about six inches deep. Stray branches and the sandbar create obstacles that restrict the team from practicing long distance pieces and forces them to slow down and, in some instances, even cancel practice.

Junior Teal Cohen, a member of the crew team since her freshman year, said that during a typical practice the team will either train at a race pace, a steady pace or complete the head course, which is a 3,000 meter loop around the lake. The accumulation of branches and other debris has blocked off major parts of these training routes. The blockage makes it difficult for the team to practice longer distances on the already small, crowded lake.

“I remember we pulled up to the lake one time,” Cohen said. “It was one of the last days of school right after a huge storm and we could not row.”

According to varsity crew coach Tim McAllister, the crew team has always practiced at Bachman Lake, and although the debris proves to be a challenge, he tries to remain flexible.

“A lake is not like a basketball court,” McAllister said. “It is a very dynamic environment susceptible to storms, wind, heat and cold.”

Not only does the debris impact the team’s practice routines, but it can also lead to boat damage. Cohen said damage can result if a boat drifts too close to the sandbar. And, if rowers are not careful, the fin under the boat will snap off upon impact.

Despite the debris, Cohen feels her team has performed well at regattas. The buildup of debris on the lake can make practices unproductive, but the girls have learned to work around these obstacles, determined to make the most of their practices.

“The girls and I make do with what we have,” McAllister said. “In reality, if the girls in Dallas have the right equipment and the right coach they can do anything and be successful.”

The boathouse captain of Bachman Lake, Matt Naifeh, said that he and many of his co-workers are waiting for the decomposition of organic matter, such as leaves, logs and fallen trees. They hope more storms will cause rising water levels, spreading out the debris and flushing it into deeper parts of the lake so that it no longer causes major obstructions.

“We are very hopeful that nature will take its course.’’

– Matt Naifeh, Boathouse Captain

Naifeh said that in order to remove the debris, the Dallas Parks Department and City Council would need to get involved. In the past they have aided with the cleanup of Bachman Lake, but the current circumstances are not significant enough for the Council to take action.

“We are very hopeful that nature will take its course,” he said. “And that conditions will improve,” Naifeh said.

– Amelia Brown – Asst. Sports and Health Editor –