Town Lake

A student fills a gallon jug with dirty water from Town Lake on Friday Oct. 26. The Clean Water March represents the walk many people in developing countries have to make in order to supply their families with water. 

Photo Credit: Becca Gamache | Daily Texan Staff

Carrying two gallons of water each, students trekked more than five miles from UT Tower to Town Lake to raise awareness about the approximately one billion people who are forced to walk miles for clean water every day.

The walk was organized by Students for Clean Water, a student organization that works to raise awareness about water problems in developing countries. Nutrition senior Zabin Marediya, the organization’s president, said in some areas, children as young as 5-years-old retrieve water with jerry cans, which can hold about five gallons of water, or up to 40 pounds.

“The gallons we carried are an iota compared to 40 pounds of water,” Marediya said. “It was an eye-opening moment because people do not realize how hard it is. Every day people have to walk so many miles to a water source that is disease-ridden and very bad for them.”

According to the nonprofit organization, 3.4 million people die each year from sanitation issues, including a lack of access to clean water. Children collectively miss up to 443 million school days due to water-related illness.

Public health senior Jesse Contreras, Students for Clean Water vice president, said despite the fatigue, the walk was a positive example of doing anything possible to raise awareness for those in need of clean water.

“My arms were pretty tired by the time we got back,” Contreras said. “But I cannot complain since it was not like the 40 pound jerry cans.”

Students for Clean Water has raised more than $65,000 for clean water since its inception two years ago with efforts that include benefit concerts, a semi-annual pancake party and profit shares with local businesses. Students for Clean Water is currently working to provide the Rulindo District of Rwanda with clean water for the first time.

In addition to university efforts, the organization advocates support for Austin initiatives for clean water. Some of the organization’s members participated at the Gazelle Foundation’s “Run for the Water” Sunday morning. The Gazelle Foundation focuses on improving the quality of life for those in Burundi, Africa by funding and building clean water projects in Burundi.

Plan II junior Jaclyn Kachelmeyer, Students for Clean Water member, woke up early to run a 5k route for the race. She said although she was exhausted, she was glad to participate in the race because it was for a good cause.

“We try to support water-related causes whenever we can,” Kachelmeyer said. “Clean water is a right everyone should have, and as students we can work as a large force to raise awareness.”

Printed on Monday, October 29, 2012 as: Students walk with water jugs, advocate access to clean water

Texas Crew has two weeks to find storage for 28 boats and equipment after losing their home of 20 years, a Town Lake warehouse, sold earlier this month. Citing the club’s dilemma and recent departures from the team, Texas Crew team captain Ian Yeats said, “A lot of people think it’s over, but it’s not. It’ll be different.”

Photo Credit: Zachary Strain | Daily Texan Staff

UT’s Texas Crew has two weeks to find somewhere to store its 28 boats, previously housed in a Town Lake warehouse sold earlier this month. If the organization does not find alternative storage, it may be forced to put down its oars and sell the boats.

The previous land owner, Hixon Properties, allowed the crew team to store its boats rent-free for the past 20 years, asking only for utility payments and maintenance, Texas Crew coach Nate Fox said. Hixon Properties sold the land to an Austin development company, World Class Capital Group. Now the team must seek out a new practice facility large enough to hold its equipment on waterside land or be forced to sell off its fleet or reduce the size of the team.

“It’s certainly up in the air,” Fox said. “I’m lucky to have a squad that will run with it. We’re not pouting. If we were, we would be in a lot of trouble.“

Fox said the Austin rowing community has provided a short-term storage solution. He also said other area clubs have been generous and are able to offer more than the University can with this short time frame.

The team is part of UT’s Division of Recreational Sports, a program that allocates funds to competitive sports teams for students whose sports are not represented at the varsity level. It also funds those who wish to compete outside National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I athletics, the highest level for collegiate sports.

Texas Crew has about 100 members, men and women, whose dues and fundraising account for the majority of the team’s budget, Fox said. The organization received $13,000 from Rec Sports this year.

The team practices Monday through Friday and competes at a national level. Varsity attends four national regattas per year, Fox said.

The team recruits heavily each fall, and many team members come into the program as freshmen with no experience. Electrical engineering senior Nick Wood said he got his start as a freshman with no experience, then advanced to the club’s top team. Wood said he was concerned about losing the space but is confident that his team will have a good season regardless.

“It’s the equivalent of having to move back with your parents,” Wood said. “We’ll be moving in with another club. We won’t have a space to call our own.”

Texas Crew is not the first club sports team at the University to have difficulty finding a practice space, Rec Sports Sport Club Coordinator Chad McKenzie said.

“We’ve had the situation happen many times,” McKenzie said, referencing issues with gymnastics, baseball and roller hockey clubs encountered in years past. “The unique thing about rowing is the large membership and large amount of stuff they need to store.”

For example, UT Roller Hockey, McKenzie said, lost its rink in Austin and was without a practice space for a year. It squeezed in practices before tournaments in other cities.

McKenzie said he has communicated with the crew team nearly every day since it learned its space would be sold. Still, Texas Crew is an off-campus club and will need to get creative and lean on the rowing community in the short term since Rec Sports cannot give the team any immediate monetary assistance.

“The timing is bad. They are in the middle of recruiting season,” McKenzie said. “I have confidence that there is strong enough leadership in place for them to figure a way out of this box.”


People walk the Town Lake trail over the Longhorn Dam on Pleasant Valley road Sunday morning.

Redbud Ropeswing

Collin Baker tosses a rope swing up to the next participant as a dog watches swimmers off Red Bud Isle on Town Lake. With temperatures routinely in the 100s, Austinites look to swimming holes as a cheap or free way to cool off.


Collin Baker scales a hand-made wooden ladder nailed to a tree near Red Bud Isle Sunday afternoon. Red Bud Isle is a popular dog park on Lake Austin where dog owners and swimmers routinely take a break from the Texas heat.

Trent Lesikar | Daily Texan Staff

On any given day in Austin, joggers circle Town Lake and countless students zip through Gregory Gym to complete daily workouts. Soon we will find out which one of them are the fittest of the fit.

This year, Austin Fit Magazine is upgrading their “10 Fittest” contest and launching a competition to find the 10 fittest people in the city through a variety of tests that measure strength, endurance and overall physical fitness. The two-day event will take place on June 9 and 10 at Camp Mabry.

Austin Fit magazine editor-in-chief Melanie Moore said the annual August issue is centered around the city’s 10 fittest people each year, but in the past, candidates were selected by popular vote rather than designated fitness tests.

“Austin is the fittest city in the country, and we hope the test demonstrates this empirically,” she said. “This year, the [competitors] will prove their fitness, as will Austin.”

Aspiring fitness prodigies will compete in 10 events including a 40-yard dash, pull-ups, burpees and a 1-mile run, which Moore said help test the concept of functional training.

“Functional training is all the muscles working together to accomplish something,” she said. “And that’s what these tests are designed around. Somebody may not be able to do one pull-up, and that’s okay. They could do really well in something else.”

The test is also designed to attract fitness lovers of all ages, especially those beyond the typical 20-something competitors, Moore said.

“We’re trying to be inclusive about the whole thing,” she said. “We wanted to encourage people of all ages and lifestyles to live a more healthy and fit lifestyle.”

Each age group will have a maximum of 100 competitors with 50 males and 50 females, Moore said, and the tests are scored based on a standard so competitors will be able to compare results from year-to-year.

The competition will also showcase celebrated local athletes as well as hold a team competition, she said. Winners will be featured in the August edition of the magazine and will receive awards.

In a fit city, UT parallels the region’s emphasis on exercise and general health consciousness, said Fitness Institute of Texas director Phil Stanforth.

“I feel like the University does a great job,” he said. “I think in general, people have a pretty good idea of what their fitness level is, and students have so many options to exercise.”

UT RecSports Fitness and Wellness coordinator Betsy Baker said the University’s emphasis on fitness reflects a larger trend throughout the city.

“I think the nature of Austin itself really contributes to the amount of participation in our classes and fitness in general,” she said. “There are so many opportunities to get active, whether it’s hiking through the mountains or running around Town Lake.”

For Moore, the August issue’s focus on the competition offered a chance for her to try out the fitness tests herself, she said.

“When we got out there, it was like a grown-up field day,” she said. “It’s fun to try it. It’s not an endurance thing, like a marathon or a triathlon. I prefer to play, and this is like play.”

Moore also said she hopes Austinites will be inspired by the fitness tests to continue to train and improve overall health long after the winners have been crowned.

“It’s about living a healthy life every day, not just training for a long run and then sitting on the couch each day after that,” she said. “We hope it will be a very fun event for people to come out to.”

Updated 4/22/12 at 11:07 p.m.: awards are not 'financial'

Printed on Friday, April 20, 2012 as: Magazine launches competition to find fittest Austinite 

As the sun rose Sunday morning, members of a local homeless advocacy group read the names of 168 homeless men and women who died in Austin this year, and mourners hung origami birds on the Tree of Remembrance on Town Lake.

The event was part of House the Homeless’ 18th annual Sunrise Memorial Service. Prayers, singing and the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaque were all part of the ceremony. Sunday’s ceremony was the second part of Austin’s Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, which runs from Nov. 13 through Nov. 19. Other events include a tour of the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, a homeless veterans awareness luncheon and a screening of “The Soloist” at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar.

City Councilwoman Laura Morrison, the event’s keynote speaker, said the city needs to improve its efforts to help the homeless, stressing access to health care, job training and affordable housing.

“Every one of these people was a son or daughter, mother or father, sister or brother,” Morrison said. “They may have been invisible in life but they aren’t anymore.”

She said these untimely deaths need to be avoided in the future, and although Austin is weathering the recession better than other cities, many Austinites are still living on the streets.

House the Homeless president Richard Troxell read a passage from his book “Looking Up at the Bottom Line: The Struggle for the Living Wage,” which urges the inclusion of the homeless in American society.

“We will rise like grass through cement,” Troxell said. “We come from every walk of life. We are America. We are living and dying on our streets.”

Jim Cooley, director of the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, said a few of his clients passed away this year and were honored at the event.

“We called him Guitar Mike and Indian Mike,” Cooley said of a homeless Austinite he cared for. “He had been homeless and in bad health. I remember five years ago seeing him and thinking that he probably wasn’t going to live for more than a month, but he ended up dying this month.”

Meeting homeless people changed Jessica Burkemper’s perspective on the issue. A volunteer at the resource center, she said getting to know the homeless individually made her realize they should not be neglected.

“First impressions are not always key,” Burkemper said. “I may have been afraid or scared the first time I went down there, but now they are my friends and they protect me and I trust them with my life. They are people just like you and me.”

Amber Fogarty, the chair of the community education subcommittee for ECHO, the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, said volunteering and understanding what causes homelessness is important.

“We have to continue to remember that we have to work together to end homelessness so that this doesn’t continue to occur,” she said.