US Olympic Rower Nicholas LaCava offers his second journal entry for The Good Men Project, detailing life in the Olympic athletic village and anticipation for Opening Ceremonies.
The past week and a half since team USA moved into the athlete village has been a complete blur. We were one of the first countries to arrive and in the beginning we had the whole place to ourselves. Now, however, all the other teams have showed up and things have gotten a little more crowded. More athletes mean longer food lines, crowded dining tables, and packed buses, but having all the different countries here is definitely exciting.
We’ve also settled into a good daily routine. Every morning we have breakfast at the dining hall and then take a forty minute bus ride to the rowing course on Dorney Lake. When we first arrived it was typical English weather: cold, wet, and windy. The past couple days have been great, however, and we’re hoping the weather will stay nice throughout the racing.
The rowing course is a manmade lake about a mile and a half in length. At one end is the Eton College boathouse that serves as the base for all the rowers. Next to the boathouse is a dining hall for the rowers to have breakfast and lunch, a media center for reporters, and a mini athlete village for rowers to relax while they are getting ready for practice.
We typically row twice during the day and we’ll stay at the course in between practices. It’s thrilling to be on an Olympic racecourse, but it can also get a little hectic with everyone trying to share a small body of water. There are multiple boat classes in rowing. Some boats have one rower, others have eight. I am rowing in the men’s lightweight four. Lightweight rowers have to weigh less than 160 pounds and the four of us have to average a little less than 155 pounds. Each boat class moves at a different speed, and while there is a traffic pattern on the course, you can sometimes find yourself facing a large boat coming full speed in your direction.
Usually we return to the athlete village by three or four and spend the rest of the day relaxing in our dorm room or eating at the dining hall. The focus during the last week leading up to a regatta is getting as much rest as possible. With that in mind we don’t get to explore England as much as we would like. Also since I am a lightweight rower, the closer I get to competition the more I need to manage and watch my weight. I’m six foot three inches tall and weighing in less than 160 pounds can be a bit of a struggle sometimes, but with only a couple days left until racing begins, I’m at weight and don’t need to stress about it too much.
The opening ceremonies start on Friday, but since our first race is the following day we won’t be participating. We will be able to watch them on TV and everyone is excited for the games to finally begin!
Photo: AP/Suzanne Plunkett