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Rowing teams gather on Lanier
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Rowers from Branksome Hall High School in Toronto row their sweeping boat under Clarks Bridge. The Canadian girls’ high school brought 54 athletes, 10 coaches and two chaperones to Gainesville and Lake Lanier. - photo by NAT GURLEY

College and high school rowers from around North America are spending their spring breaks training on Lake Lanier.

Nearly 1,500 athletes, plus coaches and some parents will come to Gainesville between early February and the end of March, Lake Lanier Rowing Club office administrator Ann Marie Hynes said on Tuesday.

“We have 435 athletes this week,” Hynes said.

A banner on the club’s chain-link fence welcomed 18 teams, including last week the six-year defending American Collegiate Rowing Association national champion University of Michigan men’s team.

The rowing club charges per athlete, per day, and for the use of its equipment, Hynes said.

“It’s a very competitive business, hosting these teams.”

Some of the teams don’t have good water nearby. Others have plenty of water, but it’s frozen, such as Branksome Hall High School in Toronto.

“It doesn’t freeze every year,” said assistant coach Lisa Dumont as a dozen Branksome Hall rowers from the all-girl school piled out of their bus at Clarks Bridge Park after lunch, preparing to practice in two boats near the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue course across the street.