2017 Oklahoma Regatta Festival Set To Kick Off - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

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2017 Oklahoma Regatta Festival Set To Kick Off

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

Thursday marks the beginning of Oklahoma Regatta Festival, a four-day celebration of rowing, kayaking, dragon boating and whitewater rafting.

For many it's all fun and games, but for a group full-time athletes here, it's a step closer to their Olympic goals.

The backdrop is the Oklahoma river, bright and early; part of a regular routine for full time rower Rich Hansen. His technique is graceful, his dedication fierce.

“We came up this mantra called row hard, get nasty and it embodies what I do. It's row your heart out and just get to it, row your heart out and just get to it, get down on it,” said Hansen.

News 9’s Chris Gilmore shadowed Hansen during part of his morning workout routine. Hansen is a guy who's been rowing and sculling since college chasing an Olympic dream. He says can't imagine doing much else.

“It's something that's inspired me since I heard about rowing. The pride of country, the excellence of sport, it's something I've thought about every single day for the last four and half years,” Hansen told News 9.

Twelve workouts a week, each two and a half hours long. But good athletes need good coaches like Reilly Dampeer, a former athlete herself.

“I love it. I grew up wanting to be a teacher. So then I was introduced to this sport and it's been an fantastic way to teach and help these athletes develop,” said Coach Reilly Dampeer.

Reilly and some of her team will be competing in some of the events this weekend at the Regatta Festival.

For those not racing, there will still be plenty to do, including food trucks, beer gardens, and of course spectating. The Regatta Festival starts Thursday and runs through Sunday.  Racing events include 2.5-mile head racing during the day and 500 meter night sprints.

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