UI homecoming adds 'recyclable boat' race


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Four teams of University of Iowa students made a splash Monday night at the first-ever UI Homecoming recyclable-boat races at the Field House pool.

Freshman Zeke Gunnink of Rienow swam away victorious.

"I want to contribute [the win] to the fifth-floor shufflers," said Gunnink, adorned in a suit of plastic bottles, dripping with water after winning the speed race. "It was really a team effort. These guys put a whole hour of work into this."

The premise for the race challenge was to construct a boat — out of recyclable materials — that could be manned by at least one person.

Residence Life events director Amanda Keegan said the staff came up with a short list of recyclable materials — including cardboard, plastic, aluminum, pcp pipes, sealant, and duct tape — that students were limited to in constructing their boats.

The teams were made up of four members all from the same residence hall — the boat races were part of a universitywide residence-hall competition.

The contest consisted of a speed race, a spirit contest, and the Titanic title — given to the boat that sank the fastest.

While Gunnink's team chose to strap him with water bottles, other teams constructed more traditional boats out of cardboard and plastic bottles.

UI freshman Matt Schutz said the Daum team's strategy was survival.

"We are Team Hopeless Futures. So you would think, you know being from the Honors dorm, we would bring in an engineering major on our team," Schutz said. "No. We have an English psychology major, an English theater major, and a psychology major, doing what is clearly engineering. So hopeless? Probably."

Keegan said the event is part of the Residence Life Sweepstakes — in which each residence hall has the opportunity to earn points for participating in Homecoming Week events.

The boat race was one of four separate events sponsored by the UI Residence Life and was one of two events new to UI Homecoming this year.

Residence Life is also sponsoring two-night movie showings, as well as Herkey's Homecoming (scavenger) Hunt to take place across campus. There is no entry fee for the Homecoming events, which are sponsored by Residence Life.

"All of our events are centered on bringing students together and getting them excited about Homecoming Week," Homecoming adviser Nellie Hermanson said.

Keegan said that Residence Life council members began planning for the events began in November 2010.

The council members decided to try the boat races at UI based on their success at other institutions, she said.

"We did some research on what other Big Ten schools do for Homecoming Week," she said.

As a safety precaution, there were four lifeguards on duty during the event, said Residence Life finance director Stephanie Schwanke.

Organizers said that limiting the materials to recyclable ones was not only in an effort for a fun event.

"We are trying to come up with events that help out our community. Homecoming isn't just about the football game, it's about the University of Iowa community," Keegan said. "Being green and recycling has definitely been a part of the residence halls, so we wanted to introduce the recyclable boat races to raise awareness as well."

Because of interest from students outside the residence halls, officials said they may open the boat race up to all students next year.

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