Architecture students break Walk on Water record

Winner Juan Vega as he nears the finish line, breaking the Walk on Water record.


The record for fastest time across the lake was broken at this year’s Walk on Water event Nov. 9. FIU architecture students Juan Vega and Ana Moreno completed the race in one minute, two seconds (one second faster than the previous record)– and took home $2,000 as their prize.

Walk on Water is an annual university tradition where students are challenged to create, design and construct “shoes” that will allow them to cross the 175-foot-wide lake behind the Green Library at Modesto A. Maidique Campus. FIU architecture students participate in hopes of earning an “A” in their Materials and Methods of Construction class in addition to winning the cash prize.

Teams racing across the Green Library lake.

This year, two races were held to accommodate the increasing number of participants. Forty student teams entered the race, including an international student from Mexico and others across Florida.

Prior to the popular event, FIU community members gathered around the lake laying blankets on the grass and setting up umbrellas to beat the Miami heat. The teams lined up preparing to step into their “shoes,” each decorated with colors and symbols.

Jaime Canaves, founder of the event and FIU professor, greeted the eager crowd, delivering words of encouragement. “Get into position and be careful. You all are looking very good,” he said.  

The race was fierce as the competitors made their way toward the blue and gold ribbon streamed above. Supporters rushed toward the water cheering them on. Parents of the students showered them with hugs and kisses at the finish line. Others celebrated, screaming “we got As.”

Vega and Moreno, both sophomores, won $1,000 for crossing the finish line first and another $1,000 for breaking the record by one second.

The team was grateful for the opportunity to participate and overwhelmed with excitement. “It feels amazing. We never expected to win,” said Moreno.

Vega advises future competitors to stay positive through the series of trials and errors. “Practice makes perfect,” he said.

International competitor Lillián Esqueda Mena crossing the finish line.

Lillián Esqueda Mena, a senior marketing and communication major from Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico, was the international winner. Her interest in the event began last year when she was visiting campus and was introduced to Canaves by her friends. She was thrilled to return to FIU to compete.

“It was fun to have this opportunity to come and [experience] the American culture. Everyone is so friendly,” she said.

State winner Jao Pedro Saraiva, an architecture major from Palm Beach State College, also won $1,000. He acknowledged all the support he received from his professor and peers.

“It was a challenge. It looks simple but it does not mean it was easy. We practiced a lot,” Saraiva said.