Architecture students celebrate 25 years of Walking on Water

Maria Lorenzino/The Beacon

Natalie Alatriste/Staff Writer

Dozens of students struggled to stay afloat while crossing the Green Library lake as spectators cheered them on during the 25th annual Walk on Water event on Oct. 30.

A horn went off to mark the start, and families, friends and local news stations looked on with wonder and awe from the sidelines as architecture students competed for a grade — and some cash, too.

Students from the Materials & Methods of Construction class had to create flotation devices to support their weight over water. The contraptions all look like large shoes, and most had poles to help them keep their balance, making it look like an elliptical machine.

Some flopped within the first minute of being in the water, but most were successful at staying afloat as they waddled across the lake to the finish line.

The winners were sophomore architecture students Meissel Herrera and Sarah Ganewinier, earning an A as a test grade and a $500 grand prize.

Herrera’s younger brother, Anibal, walked in the aluminum-based contraption on their behalf. It was designed specifically for him. The entire Herrera family, including both parents, waited for him at the finish line.

He made it across in one minute and 41 seconds.

Maria Lorenzino/The Beacon

“When my sister asked me to do this, I didn’t know what to think,” said Herrera, chuckling. “I just hope I get to keep some of the money.”

The team had about eight or nine practice trials before the event. They would practice for 30 minutes to an hour in different bodies of water, including the lake, beaches and marinas.

Students could work on the project alone or team up into twos and threes. In a pair, only one person could race.  In a team of three, however, all had to get on the water.

Only one team of three raced in this year’s event.

The three girls, Natalie Restrepo, Gina Rojas-Skinner and Daniela Ruggero, all sophomores majoring in architecture, gained much recognition for their three-person apparatus.

The crowd rooted and chanted for the “Conga Girls,” as they were nicknamed for their movement toward the finish line, dancing to the end.

Their device was wood-based. Restrepo says they looked to nature for design inspiration. They had built-in scales on the sides, made of a tough plastic, and flaps resembling a dolphin’s tail on the back.

“Crossing the finish line felt great. I was so tired, so finishing was almost surreal,” said Restrepo.

Professor Jaime Canaves, who created this class project, said he started out on the lake in his own backyard.

The class project for sophomore architecture students has become a student tradition, and many enjoy taking time out of their day to see the race.

Brittany Tyler, a senior majoring in communications art, was among the students viewing from the sidelines.

“My professor brought our class to watch the races. We thought it would be a fun activity to witness.”

Denise Bujalil, another sophomore from the architecture class who placed fifth in the competition, and said it was well worth it.

“Collectively, it took us 20 straight hours to build, so walking across was really exciting. It felt nice to see so much support,” she said.

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