England Synchro Talent Development Squad report
From the results of the December 2010 National Age Group Synchronised Swimming Championships, 16 athletes were selected aged 13-15, to attend the England Talent Development Squad Trials in February at Crystal Palace.
After an exhausting weekend of assessments, time trials and tests including speed swimming, flexibility and synchro skills, the top twelve athletes were selected to attend four further Level 3 Talent Camps.
Coaches were invited to work with the Level 3 Talent Squad, a Head Coach was appointed along with a bank of Assistant Coaches to assist during the camps. Kate Coupar was selected to lead the team as the Head Coach. Kate is one of the new ASA-funded full time Development Synchro Coaches and is employed by GLL working for Reading Royals Synchro Club.
The athletes continued to work during the camps and at their clubs on improving their technical synchro skils and perfect an ex-senior GB routine. During the camps they received sports science support in strength, conditioning and core work, nutrition and physio screening. In June the top 10 athletes were selected to the Primorje Synchro Cup in Croatia.
The athletes arrived in Croatia in 30+ degree heat. It was a great test for all involved with the competition organisation differences, including no training on the first day for any teams. The athletes worked with the Head Coach to adapt to the circumstances and make best use of the hotel facilities and the sea-front location.
The facilities were stunning. Set on the beautiful Croatian coast, the indoor 50m pool with sliding roof was the venue for the competition and the outdoor 50m pool, usually used for water polo, was at our disposal for all our training requirements.
There were nine teams entered and while the standard of the other countries varied, they all looked a similar level to ourselves which gave the athletes confidence that they could do well.
They all rose to the occasion improving their figure scores from the National Age Groups by a huge amount and it was very encouraging to see them retain what they have learnt so far on the Level 3 Camps. The top three were very close after figures - Austria led Israel and then us. A little further away were Switzerland and Croatia.
The challenging routine was looking technically good and synchronized in the practice. Most athletes were focused on the team performance and the goals set.
This was the first international routine performance for most of our athletes and the nerves showed at the start of the performance but as they progressed the routine got stronger and stronger finishing with the best end back flip lift they had ever performed. Israel performed their routine exceptionally well overtaking Austria into gold medal position.
The Talent Squad's hard work to date was rewarded by winning third place and coming home with a bronze medal, adding to the international synchro medal tally headed up by the British Gas GBR Senior Synchronised Swimming Team.
The athletes will now return for two further training camps at the High Performance Centre in preparation for a much tougher event in Italy, the COMEN Cup. The standards will be higher with some of the top Countries in the world competing.
With the experiences gained in Croatia at the competition we will be expecting the squad to raise its standards as well.