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Submitted by August Wherry, Hobart College ’16, an Edgefield Grandson.
(Hobart College rowers representing USA made it to the semifinals in their first heat on Wednesday, in the World Championship Regatta.)
Greetings from Varese, Italy! After restless hours of travel and adjusting to the six hour time change, Rob and I have finally settled in to the routine here. Today marked the beginning of a promising week of success with Team USA. We are staying in a very modern hotel that seems to have been built to host spectators for the horse racing that takes place across the street. The rooms are super-efficient in the oddest of ways. You must insert your room card to turn on your lights and to use the bathroom. The staff is very courteous and has been working hard to provide us healthy, homemade meals three times a day. We have had pasta, rice, and chicken every night so far and we are finding it hard to complain. The taste of the food is far richer than what you can find back home in The States. Despite everyone being on their own schedule and training plan, meals have provided great bonding time between all of the athletes. Every table never hosts the same athletes, but they continue to share the same common theme – going fast and winning races.
The day begins with a 6:30 wake up call and an immediate walk to breakfast. After packing down as much as we can, we grab our gear and hop aboard the bus to take the 15 minute drive to the course. The venue is unlike any regatta I have ever been to. The course and spectator area has yet to be set up, but it’s already apparent that the regatta is designed for the best athlete experience possible. There are hundreds of local Italian students who are working behind the scenes to ensure a smooth running regatta. From holding on to your personal bag while you’re practicing, handing you your oar when launching, holding your shoes, etc. We really appreciate how enthusiastic these kids are about helping and being apart of a global competition. Many of the kids will approach us and ask a random question in English just to utilize the opportunity to learn/practice another language. They view us as super-athletes and it is a truly heartwarming feeling.
The only downside has been that the weather has not been the friendliest. It has been mid 80’s with all-day rain and a 75% humidity. The water is very choppy and windy – making it very difficult to find the fastest speed of our boat. Nevertheless, the training we’ve received on Seneca Lake has prepared us well for these types of conditions. On the brighter side of things, Lago di Varese is breathtakingly beautiful. We are surrounded by mountains smothered with wildlife and villages that can be seen for miles. Behind the mountains sit the huge, beautiful, snow-covered Swiss Alps that honestly appear to be the size of the entire sky.
However, even with all of the beautiful distractions and experiences Rob and I are practicing hard and with intent. We are counting down the days until our first race (Wednesday afternoon TBD). We have limited Internet access so we will continue to update all our supporters as frequently as possible. To all of those reading this: Rob and I truly appreciate all of the support you have shown us this summer. The memories and experiences we are gaining through this trip will forever be with us. We could not have made with without you. Please continue to follow our progress throughout the week as there should be an exciting conclusion!
Go Statesmen and Go USA!