Aug. 23, ATHENS – On a windy day in Schinias, all four American boats advanced to the semifinals on the first day of flatwater sprint canoe/kayak qualifying heats at the Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Centre.

In a tough field of competition, Benjie Lewis (Aventura, Fla.) moves on to Wednesday’s semifinals in the men’s K-1 1,000m race with his qualifying time of 3:43.052.

“It was incredible going down the course, the whole time I was just thinking, wow, this is the Olympics,” Lewis said.

The women’s K-4 500m team of Carrie Johnson (San Diego, Calif.), Kathy Colin (Kailua, Hawaii), Lauren Spalding (Maui, Hawaii) and Marie Mijalis (Miami, Fla.) finished the race with a time of 1:36.994 and are headed to the semifinals.

Although the team is young in age and experience with only Colin having been to the Olympics before, Johnson thinks their youth is to their advantage.

“It helps us because no one is expecting us to do well, and I think we’re going to surprise some people,” she said.

Colin thinks the team is more mature than their experience in races shows.

“Even though they’re a very young crew, they’re a very mature crew. I’ve just tried to let them know what the difference is at the Olympics compared to other races they’ve experienced,” Colin said.

In the men’s K-2 1,000m race, Jeff Smoke (Buchanan, Mich.) and Andy Bussey (Kailua, Hawaii) will also start in Wednesday’s races. The duo finished their heat with a time of 3:17.268.

“We got off to a bad start and had some bad first few strokes, but after that, we made up some ground,” Smoke said.

“The wind was blowing us around a lot, and when the boat didn’t get out of the blocks well, we didn’t really hit the peak speed that we need to,” Bussey said. “We’re fired up for Wednesday though. We’ll shake this one off and come back.”

The men’s C-2 1,000m team of Jordan Malloch (Seattle, Wash.) and Nate Johnson (Seattle, Wash.) also head to the semifinals after finishing with a time of 3:50.735.

The second day of qualifying heats get underway on Tuesday with Rami Zur (Berkeley, Calif.) taking to the course in the men’s K-1 500m at 9:00 a.m. Zur will also compete in the men’s K-2 500m event with Bartosz Wolski (New Britain, Conn.) at 10:30 a.m.

C. Johnson starts the women’s K-1 500m race at 10:00 a.m. The C-2 team of Malloch and N. Johnson also team up for the C-2 500m event at 10:40 a.m. Colin and Spalding race in the women’s K-2 500m at 11:00 a.m.