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Letter From London: Day 1 Of Olympic Racing

John LaCava, the father of Weston Olympic rower Nick LaCava, is providing occasional diaries from London during the Summer Olympics. Here is his report.

ETON, England. -- We awoke early this morning at 6 a.m. because we did not know what to expect in terms of crowds or security checks at the race course.  The rowing venue is just a short boat ride up the Thames.  After months of the wettest weather in England, we were lucky that this Saturday was bright and sunny for the races.

The boat dropped us off about a mile and a half from the actual rowing venue and the approach was like being at a major rock concert.  Thousands of rowing fans were following the flag-lined, yellow brick road that led across a broad green field to the viewing stands. At previous world championship events I’ve attended, the crowds numbered less than 10,000.  Today, I would estimate that over 30,000 fans filled the bleachers and lined the banks of the course.

Great Britain. Australia. Italy. New Zealand. Switzerland. USA. Whenever the nationality of the boats was announced, the cheers from that countries’ supporters would arise from a particular section of the stands. And all the USA boats were well represented vocally.

These races were the heats. The top two or three boats advance to a final or semifinal. The losers have one last chance on another day. Nick’s heat was very competitive, being won by the Swiss. Nick and his crew will have to race again against Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic to earn a shot at the finals.

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