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Swamping Safety Database

Details of incident 104

Swamping record

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Date 3rd Apr 2007
Location Branched Oak Lake, Nebraska
Water Temperature 50-55F
Boat(s) involved 8+
Boat Construction Vespoli
Outcome Boat swamped by large waves whipped up by wind, submerged. End compartments snapped off the main body of the shell, and launch capsized.

Coach handed life jackets to the crew. 9 crew members and the coach swam to shore after 1 hours in water. One crew member rescued from middle of lake.

All 10 hospitalised and treated for hypothermia. 
Description Full report (text archived below - © KETV.com

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Ten members of the University of Nebraska rowing team had to be rescued from Branched Oak Lake Tuesday morning.

A KETV NewsWatch 7 crew at the scene said the boat the team members were in was wiped out by the high winds and rough water. They were in the water for almost an hour.

Crew member Meagan Diechert said the winds were calm on the lake when her team started practice at 6 a.m. As the team rowed past a protected cove, the weather whipped up.

"By that time the waves were big and they came over the boat," said Diechert, who ended up in the icy waters. "At first, it didn't feel too bad, but as you kept swimming, it got colder."

Coach Caleb Pokorny was following in a small motor boat. He said he began throwing life jackets to the crew.

"It's what we're taught, is to try and get the life jackets to them right away," he said.

The coach had ordered team members into the 50- to-55-degree water because their flimsy boat was starting to break up in five-foot swells caused by 30 mph winds.

Conservation officer Stacey Lewton said the coach tried to take the team to shore, but his boat became overloaded and soon foundered.

"When the launch capsized, that was a pretty scary moment for me," Pokorny said.

The women, who were wearing life preservers, then headed toward shore some 400 yards away.

The one woman who didn't make it to shore was found about 200 yards off by rescuers.

All 10 people were taken to a local hospital for treatment of hypothermia and minor bumps and bruises.

"Everybody had their little moments of panic," Diechert said. "But all of the other girls would, like, make sure they would get them past it. And if anybody was getting upset, we'd ask them if they were OK and tell them to just keep kicking."

The racing boat was split in three. Diechert said the team is upset their boat is ruined.


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