Yesterday was our first day of rowing on the Olympic race course! The rowing, canoeing, and kayaking venue is at Eton Dorney in Buckinghamshire, which is about a 40 minute bus ride away from the Rowing village when there is no traffic. Because of the long ride to the course, we will be spending our days at the course resting, eating, and napping between our practices (3 hours to and from the course in a day would be too much). Yesterday we arrived at the course around 9am and then spent much of the morning acclimating. We all found the equipment we will be racing in, and then spent some time adjusting the boats and oars to match what we are used to. The USA rowing team keeps a fleet of boats stored in Germany for all of our European racing, so although Sarah and I will not be rowing in the exact hull that we were practicing in while in Princeton, we have an exact copy of the boat and oars from home.
After adjusting all the equipment, Sarah and I went out for a quick row. The boat felt great! It was really nice to get out all the stiffness from the trip. We spent the morning row checking out the traffic pattern on the course and looking around to figure out what everything looks like. Guess what? The Olympic course looks just like any other race course 🙂 Conditions were actually pretty nice yesterday — the wind was strong, but the water was still flat, although we’ve been told to not get our hopes up yet because the chop is likely on its way. Lots of rain though, and we’ve been told this is normal. So family who is on the way — bring your umbrellas, there is no covered grand stand section!
After our morning row, the team got some lunch and then rested in the athlete lounge. We are the first big team to arrive at the Rowing village and the race course, so it has been nice to spread out and adjust to our surroundings while everything is still quiet and slow. After a quick break, we hopped back in the boat and went for another row. Then back onto the bus and home to the rowing village for dinner and bed! All in all, everything went smoothly, and it was very exciting to experience my first Olympic race course! After a big day of distractions the day before, you could feel all of our focus come back as we got ourselves back into a boat. Racing is so soon, I can’t wait!
I’m off to breakfast now and another day of practicing at the course, so here are some pictures from yesterday, and I’ll update again soon!