MARCH 27, 2012

Lauren Wenger headshotCiao Tuti,

Hello from Italy. We are on the road again travelling to Italy, Russia, and Greece. It is an exciting time right now because the European teams are all playing at an extremely high level because their Olympic qualifier is coming up. Nine teams will have a chance to gain an Olympic birth on April 15-22. The following teams could possibly qualify: Italy, Russia, Greece, Netherlands, Spain, Kazakhstan, Hungary, Brazil, and Canada.

Some may asks why there are Americas teams within this European qualifier. Fortunately, there is a back door route if teams could not qualify within their continental tournament. So in October 2011, Pan Americans hosted, the Americas tournament: the United States, Canada, Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina.  The United States took gold, which qualified us for the Olympics so now Canada and Brazil have the chance to qualify in the European tournament. Water polo is such a European driven sport so it is an awesome chance to have non- European teams trying to qualify again. Good luck to all the teams. We are super excited to follow the tournament!

Beginning Wednesday March 28 we will be playing in the Kirishi Cup tournament in Kirishi, Russia. Kirishi is a little oil refinery city just about two hours outside of St. Petersburg. This tournament will be a round robin type where we will play each country once. The following teams are in the tournament: Greece, Russia, the Netherlands, Spain, China and the U.S. We will open the tournament playing Greece on Wednesday, which are the reigning World Champions. Like I mentioned before, this tournament is crucial because most of the teams will be trying to qualify in less than a month. I will keep everyone updated on our progress throughout the tournament. Go USA!

Before we left the United States we had a super fun photo shoot up in Los Angeles. We took some action pictures in the pool and some other fun photos outside.  At one point, we were given these incredibly large apples from our sponsor, Stemilt. We are so lucky to have an organic fruit sponsor to fuel/refuel us throughout our rigorous training schedule. For fun, we played a little water polo game with apples. It is fun to be silly at times when obviously this is a very crucial time in our preparation for the Olympic games. Check out the video of us playing water polo with apples.