On Thursday, July 5th, 2018, on our way to the one allotted on-water practice, team members took notice of dozens of signs posted throughout Florence and at the park entrance featuring our incredible, famous coach, Kathy Levy! As we made our way into Cascine Park along the Arno River, excitement mounted as we passed hundreds of team tents already set up in the athletes’ village on our way to find our Knot A Breast tent. The athletes’ village and waterway was a beehive of activity as last minute preparations were taking place including setting up the port-a-potties, the tents, the timing and announcement booth, the vendor area, the marshalling area, and the security fencing. The excitement level was building. We loaded our practice boat and settled into our practice drills.

Coach Kathy and Steersperson, Donna Reise had scouted the race course. One experienced teammate said quietly, “you will experience a wide variety of emotions over the next few days”. Lots of butterflies, extreme heat, and anticipation mixed with anxiety. Kathy started to call commands and we settled into our familiar drills. It felt good to sit in the boat. Afterwards, friends who had not seen us paddle before were heard to remark on how we could paddle so well together and the military precision of our movement as a team. We had put in the time. Now we just had to execute the plan. We had a great (albeit hot) practice.