Rowing for research

They're rowing across the Atlantic Ocean? Are they out of their minds?

Actually, no – but Adam Kreek and his teammates are mindful of the stresses, both physical and mental, that taking on a more than 3,700 nautical mile (6,700 km) trip entails. The group will set off from Dakar, Senegal, in mid January, rowing a sophisticated, open 29-foot rowboat, the James Robert Hanssen, on a world-record-attempting journey that will take them to Miami, Florida.

The late Dr. Rick Mrazek, centre, with Adam Kreek, far left, and members of his crew.

Along the way, researchers from the University of Lethbridge will be tracking their every movement and collecting valuable data for use in a number of studies.

The mission is expected to take 60 to 100 days to complete. Their original target date of arrival in Miami was Mar. 22 (World Water Day), but had to be pushed back by shipping delays caused by Hurricane Sandy.

When Kreek, an Olympic gold medal winning rower, visited the U of L this past fall, he turned his passion for water and adventure loose on land-locked faculty, students and community members in a way that got them thinking in innovative ways about water – a subject Kreek knows well.

"Let's face it: Lethbridge isn't surrounded by a lot of water," says Dr. Rick Mrazek, Faculty of Education Associate Dean and science educator. "The Oldman River, while picturesque, isn't massive, there are no great lakes nearby, and what water we do have in this area is highly managed to make sure it supports our regional water needs, agri-business and the farming economy. Working with the Canadian Wildlife Federation to support Adam's trip and the opportunities we have to be involved as interactive observers on this adventure is extremely exciting."

Mrazek says it's one thing to teach students about the Atlantic Ocean, but it's quite another to follow someone, in real time, who is rowing across the Atlantic Ocean. "Through our relationship with Adam and his team, our education students, teachers in the area and our researchers can take advantage of his trip to bring students authentic data and information about ocean and weather dynamics, marine life, the biomechanics of rowing and movement, and other real-life research opportunities."

Mrazek says the rowers will be collecting data which could be available to researchers and students here at the U of L. Students in community classrooms will also be following the trip online, and Kreek and his team will be checking in regularly.

The Canadian Wildlife Federation, OAR Northwest and a host of sponsors who have provided everything from satellite phones to the massive amounts of high calorie food the team members will require for their journey, are supporting the trip.


· Kreek will be joined by teammates Markus Pukonen, Pat Fleming and Jordan Hanssen for their journey

· Mrazek is a bold proponent of environmental sustainability and the latest application of his research can be found at the Water in a World of 7 Billion legacy website (

· Kreek's team will gather data from the ocean environment, marine life and themselves (relating responses in human physiology under stress) throughout the trip

· The team will row 24 hours per day and in two-hour shifts, allowing for sleep and rest

· Kreek competed in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, winning gold with the Canadian men's eights team at Beijing in 2008

This story first appeared in the January 2013 edition of the Legend. For a look at the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.