Maggie Steffens is a two-time Olympic champion and two-time Olympic MVP. Representing Team USA for the past decade, Steffens’ legendary water polo career also includes three world championships titles, three World Cup trophies, nine World League Super Final victories, two Intercontinental Tournament wins and two Pan American Games gold medals. Competing at her third Pan Am Games, Steffens is chronicling the journey for TeamUSA.org and @TeamUSA social channels. Below she provides a look at a day in the life on one of the U.S. women’s water polo team first days in Lima, Peru.
Good day, Lima, Peru! It is absolutely freezing outside, which means a brisk high 50 degrees for us warm weather Californians. We have a big day ahead of us as we prepare for the Games to start, so we are waking up early to make sure we get everything we need in order.
6 a.m. – Wake-up Call
A few of our teammates made overnight oats last night for the team, so my suitemates (five of us to an apartment) and I grab ourselves a bowl. We have a recipe from our team nutritionist, Shawn, and I would highly recommend it! On our way to the bus, we stop by the Team USA athlete lounge in our building to fill up on some coffee. Our team is a BIG coffee team! We find the rest of our teammates and head to the bus stop… competition pool here we come!
8-9:30 a.m. – Practice
We leave the village at 7 a.m. in our bus to head through the streets of Lima and to our competition pool. Some things I have learned on these long and bumpy bus rides: there are lots of dogs in Lima, popcorn or corn nuts are almost always being sold on the streets, and the people are always willing to return a friendly smile and wave! We aren’t in the ‘nicest’ part of Lima, so these bus rides have provided great perspective and a deeper look into the Peruvian culture.
Once we get to the pool, we are surrounded by a few other sport stadiums, including softball, baseball, field hockey and rugby. We even see some of USA Softball training – go, girls, go! The inside of our venue feels very professional and the water looks ready to jump in. It is always our favorite part to see the competition pool and jump in for the first time, it’s inspiring to imagine the possibilities this pool could bring us.
11 a.m. – Nap Time
Early morning calls for an athlete’s nap! Sleep and recovery are very important to refuel the body so we can play at peak performance during the Games.
1 p.m. – Lunch In The Dining Hall
Heading into the dining hall is like a meal traveling around the world. It’s a huge cafeteria of different types of food and different types of people (from all over the Americas). As we’re grabbing our lunch, we definitely try to guess what sport people play and ask them, ideally in their native language, if we are right. We always sit together at those classic long cafeteria tables after we fill our plates with nutritious fuel!
2 p.m. – PUZZLE!
1,000 piece puzzle…. Game on.
3 p.m. – Weights And Conditioning
Today, we only have one practice in the water due to the scheduling and bus restrictions. There is a great gym here in the village that has everything we need. We do an activation outside on the village basketball courts before we head in to the gym for our team lift. In the gym, we integrate some running and conditioning into our normal lift session to increase cardio since we only have one water practice today. The gym is full of athletes from all over who are BADASS and motivate us to work even harder. There is great respect for one another just walking around the village, so in the gym it’s even more escalated! The Puerto Rican basketball team was DJ’ing the entire gym and we weren’t shy to mix in some dancing with our lift.
5 p.m. – Entertainment
On our way out of the gym, a few of us decide to check out the village entertainment area. There are video games, billiards, ping pong, art classes and more. Some of us disperse into different areas, but two of us discover this human-sized billiard game outside. The game is made of small soccer balls and you kick the white ball instead of using a cue stick. It took us some time to figure out how to keep the balls INSIDE the game walls, but we eventually mastered it… of course.
7 p.m. – Dinner And Team Meeting
After a full day, we head back to the dining hall and then meet in the International Zone (concert area, food and drinks, stores, etc.) for a little team meeting. Just a simple reminder of the importance of being inspired by the energy yet focused through the distractions.
8:30 p.m. – Bed!
Life of an athlete: already in BED. (Reading, calling home, Netflix, whatever we need to wind down!)