It was a calm and clear morning in Linn Creek as the water shimmered with early rays of sunlight.

It was a calm and clear morning in Linn Creek as the water shimmered with early rays of sunlight.

The conditions of the lake were ideal for a rower like Ireland Betta who took the oars of her 21-foot single scull and proceeded to glide away from her dock with her father Jim trailing in a boat not far behind. The two-mile journey ahead of them had become routine for the duo over the summer as Betta, a 2017 Camdenton graduate, was using another morning to prepare for rowing season at Creighton University.

It was the final day before heading back to school and Betta was not about to let the opportunity go to waste.

“It is so smooth when I go out so it is very peaceful and a nice feeling to go out there in the morning,” Betta said of the water she pulled her oars through for three days a week over the past few months. “Some people are out on their decks drinking coffee while I go out there and row and they just kind of watch. They don’t say anything, but they just watch and I think they kind of like seeing something different.”

A scull on the Lake of the Ozarks may certainly be an unusual sight for some and according to Jim, his daughter’s scull was a first for the Water Patrol Division of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Rowing was not even on the radar for Betta, who had offers to play soccer collegiately at multiple schools after her career at Camdenton, but could not quite find the right fit. However, her path was about to change.

For someone who had only kayaked on the lake before and just happened to know of the sport because of the Olympics, Betta decided to walk on the rowing team at the Division I school in Omaha, Neb. Fast forward just a year later and she is on scholarship at the school where she studies sports marketing and management.

Not a bad trajectory for someone who was drawn to Creighton for its academics and location and simply decided to try something new just a few months before school started.

“Once I met with the coaches on campus and they started showing me around, I got to meet the team and I fell in love. They even showed me a video of it and that brought me over the top,” the Creighton sophomore remarked. “I just loved it.”

But her love was soon put to the test as Betta recalled being one of about 50 girls trying out for a team of made up of about 35 rowers at the start of the year. After making the cut, her schedule was soon full of practices at 4:30 a.m., six days a week throughout the year. As long as the water was above freezing, there was some rowing and weightlifting to do as well.

“You have to go through two weeks of hell pretty much at the tryout,” Betta said. “In the beginning, a lot of girls I think are just intimidated by rowing because it just seems so strenuous and it is, but you just feel so good after all that hard work.”

Betta was a member of four and eight-man boats this past season. Every boat is made up of the rowers and a coxswain, who is tasked with giving directions and steering the boat. As for the Camdenton native, she primarily rowed on the starboard side (left side) in the third seat or at the bow in the front since she was a little lighter in weight.

Creighton is a member of the Big East Conference, but with only three rowing teams, the schools are split into other conferences that are closer in proximity. There are three non-conference events during the fall from October to November and four regattas in the spring between March and April before the West Coast Conference Championships in May.

Most races are usually two kilometers in distance (1.24 miles), but others can be longer such as the six-kilometer races (3.7 miles). According to Betta, her team has clocked in two-kilometer races in the past with a time of about seven minutes. That roughly translates to a scull moving about 10.65 miles per hour through the water.

“For the first 10 seconds or so, you are absolutely dead and drained because you use all of your muscles and energy during that race,” Betta said of competing. “All of us hunch over because we cannot breathe. Then after that, you just feel so good because you did it.”

As tired as she may be, Betta is also motivated by the idea of coming through for her team where every movement is crucial to keep the boat gliding through the water.

“My team is a family and we stick together no matter what. Our motto is that we pull for each other,” she noted. “This is a team sport and you have to pull your hardest for your team and everyone else. Everyone holds each other accountable and it is great. “My coaches and teammates are the best I’ve ever had. I’m blessed to have them and I love all of them.”

That is why Betta has taken it upon herself to uphold her end of the bargain over the summer and continually stay in shape with workouts and her scull on the lake. There was no mandate or directive to do so, but the lake provided an opportunity and spending some quality time on the water for an hour or so with family trailing in a boat or a jet ski was too good to pass up. It certainly helps when the water has remained well above freezing as well.

“I just took initiative and did it because a lot of girls are not able to have a boat with them,” she said. “I am very blessed to have the ability to go out on a boat.”

Betta intends to be on a boat through the rest of her collegiate career, which has taken her across the country and allowed her to meet new people and make new friends. Her racing days may come to an end one day, but anyone on the lake just may see that 21-foot watercraft making its way across the water. “I’m definitely going to keep this in my life forever,” Betta said.

For someone that simply just tried something new, it certainly seems like a good use of time. When the conditions are ideal, there will likely be a pair of oars in the water.