MINNEAPOLIS - Rowing is the ultimate team sport. And, as it happens, so are river rescues.
Two collegiate rowers and University of Minnesota rowing coaches joined forces Wednesday morning to pull an injured woman from the roiling waters of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.
"I was kind of in shock that this was actually happening," U of M rower Emily Stock told KARE, "I don't come out to the river and expect to see a person there who needs help."
Stock was on the river at the time taking part of a collegiate rowing summer camp. Lock was in a motorized launch with another rower, Emily Johansen, who is a member of the Harvard rowing crew, and Coach Wendy Davis.
"I spotted this woman who seemed to be tangled in the trees or debris, and it was clear there was something wrong," Davis said.
"The rowers did what they needed to do and they instantly reacted to everything we told them."
The currents in the rain swollen river were very swift, so it took a lot of maneuvering to get the launch close to the woman in the water.
"There were fallen logs we had to steer the launch around," Stock recalled, "The other Emily and I had to use our hands to kind of push the logs out of the way so we were able to get closer to her."
The students dropped a ladder toward the woman, who was trying to speak but unable to get any coherent words across the the them. Both Stock and Johansen tried pulling the stranded woman up the ladder, but part of her clothing became stuck on the ladder.
Assistant Coach Peter Morgan came along in another launch, and moved in at that precise moment.
"They were having a very hard time getting her out of the debris that was there," Morgan told KARE.
"I was able to come along, and get underneath the woman's legs and sort of lift her up and get her body fully on their launch."
Exactly what the woman was doing in the river is unclear. According to the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office she fell into the river near the Washington Avenue Bridge, a half mile upstream, and had been in the water snagged in the trees for several hours before the rowers came along.
"If was definitely a team effort and we couldn't have done it without everyone there," Stock, a freshman from Savage, remarked.
Normally the rowers wouldn't even be in this part of the river. But Wednesday they launched from the Minneapolis Rowing Club dock, downstream from their usual spot, the U of M Boathouse.
"I'm so glad we were there. So glad because normally we wouldn't be there," Davis said.
The churning waters of the Mississippi can easily claim a life, but fate had something else in mind Wednesday.