UTAH (ABC4) – Students from the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind (USDB) completed a 70 mile race across the Puget Sound on Sunday.

4 girls, 4 boys and 8 adult chaperones entered the race Friday at 7 p.m. PT in Tacoma, Washington, paddling day and night to make it to the finish line at Port Townsend, Washington, crossing at 7:10 a.m. Sunday.

During spring, the students practiced rowing in Utah lakes, preparing with overnight paddling and sleeping, eating and shift changes.

The after school activity centered on problem solving, communication, math, fitness, and teamwork.

Susan Patten of the Utah School for the Blind exclaimed, “They finished! They are so cold, wet, and tired. These kids and their crew rock!”

Patten says they had to stop overnight about 3.5 miles away from the finish line due to high swells, but they persevered when the waves calmed.

The team made it across the finish line after a grueling 36 hours of rowing.

Crew Leader Ryan Greene says that the students wanted a second chance:

“Last year, the USDB Yacht Club paddled for 50 miles, but not the goal of 70. In 2021 they were not able to finish the race due to high swells and dangerous weather on the last leg of the race. This year, we were determined to make it to the finish line. We learned so much from the first attempt. This year we took short breaks at campgrounds along the way and we planned those stops with an eye on the tides to make our paddling as efficient and effective as possible. We did it! We crossed the finish line. The students wanted to enter this race and now they have conquered this challenge!”

The race. called the Seventy48, is a major accomplishment. USDB Superintendent Joel Coleman says that throughout history, most sports have not been accessible to children who are blind. He says that USDB focuses on sports that are accessible and encourages students to be active and healthy, physically and mentally. “We focus on abilities, not disabilities.”

Click here for more information on USDB.

See below for a map of the race.