Lauren Smith blogs from the GB camp
2 May 2011
Find out the latest from British Synchronised Swimmer of the Year Lauren Smith as the GB team fine-tune their preparation ahead of the LEN European Champions Cup in Sheffield in May.
The British Synchronised Swimming squad have just returned from the British Championships in Gloucester last weekend.
We entered all events in the open section and treated it like any other competition. It was a nice way of showing how much we are improving from month to month as well as giving something for the young athletes competing at the event to aspire to.
After every competition we have a review where we discuss the positives and negatives from the competition.
This competition was also a good way of getting some feedback from judges to see what we can improve on.
After every competition we have a review where we discuss the positives and negatives from the competition and watch our routines. From that we use the judges feedback and often change the choreography of each routine to try and push it closer to a perfect 10.
Before Gloucester, we went to the German Open which was our first international event of 2011. We came back with a bronze medal in the combination team which is always a good confidence boost for us.
It was also pleasing to see we beat Brazil in the technical team (which we have never done before) and got extremely close to France.
I also felt we are being more independent and working well as a team rather than relying on the coaches to constantly decide what we need to do.
It was nice to see the benefits of working with Tammy shown in our competition performances.
We have also had Tammy McGregor - an American coach who coached the US team in Beijing and won a gold medal for the US at the Olympics - working with us early this year. She has been focusing on our technical team with particular focus on the technical elements and it's nice to see the benefits of this being shown in our competition performances.
Personally I have had a phenomenal past 12 months with being British solo champion last year and wining my solo bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in India last October.
I was also awarded the British Synchronised Swimmer of the Year in Gloucester last weekend as well as Scottish Synchro Swimmer of the Year and will be attending the awards in September. It really was an amazing surprise and this is a year that I will never forget!
My goal now is working towards the London 2012 Olympics with the World Championships in Shanghai this year as our largest competition before the Games.
Of course we were incredibly excited about the announcement that Great Britain would be allowed to swim at the London 2012 Games. We understood that the decision could go either way so it was a huge relief to hear the news.
However, this doesn't mean that the whole team is qualified to compete - we currently have a squad of 11 members and trials this year and next year will decide the nine athletes who actually get to go to London.
Probably our biggest competition before the Worlds is the European Cup in Sheffield in three weeks time.
This is an excellent competition for us to experience the home crowd which is a good expectation of what the London 2012 Olympics will feel like.
We performed a display at Ponds Forge two weekends ago so we are feeling confident ahead of the meet.
We have already been to the pool in Sheffield this year, performing a display at the opening ceremony of the FINA/Midea Diving World Series two weekends ago so we are confident ahead of the meet.
It was also good to get some good media attention from that weekend with our performance on the BBC Sport website.
Next week we will be starting an extremely demanding two weeks before the competition which will involve us swimming with 1, 2 and 3kg weight belts, lots of whole swims with little rest and no goggles.
The final week before the competition will involve competition simulations which involves swimming our routines with the same stresses, wearing the suits as we would at the competition which is excellent for us to prepare and be mentally ready.
Hopefully as many of you as possible will come and support us in Sheffield - we would like lots of cheering please!
You can follow me on Twitter @synchroloz for updates on our training and competitions - also tweet me or contact email@example.com for advice or coaching enquiries if you're an aspiring synchro athlete and I will be happy to help out.