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Nixon breaks new ground with Hawaii switch

31 December 2013

Claire Nixon will break new ground for a domestic British water polo female player when she begins a four-year scholarship at the University of Hawaii from January 2014.

The 20-year old centre back has been part of the senior British squad since 2010 and competed at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona.

It's a fantastic opportunity and I can't wait to get started - Claire NixonHaving also impressed with her performances at the 2012 European Under 19 Championships and this year’s World Junior Championships, Nixon was offered the chance to join one of the strongest teams in the USA collegiate system.

Led by head coach Maureen Cole, University of Hawaii finished fourth in the 2013 NCAA Championships and count Canadian international Monika Eggens in their current roster and the Netherlands’ Olympic gold medallist Iefke Van Belkum amongst their alumni.

And Nixon, who will combine her studies with a degree in engineering, admits she’s desperate to begin this latest challenge in her water polo career.

“I’m really excited to start training with the team,” said Nixon. “I haven’t been out there yet but I’ve been watching a video one of the girls sent me.

“It will be a completely different lifestyle to the UK. We will be training in an outdoor pool and training in the sea. There will also be lots of travelling for competitions because we’re based in Hawaii so it’s a fantastic opportunity and I can’t wait.

“It will be a really high standard as well. Any girl on the USA national team will have gone through university and the university league is the equivalent of our national league.

“Hawaii have had some big names playing there and finished fourth last year so I’m looking forward to training and getting ready for our first game at the end of January.”

Claire going to Hawaii is not just a big step forward for her but also for GB female player development - Graeme ThompsonWhile Nixon will miss World League and European Championship Qualifiers in early 2014, she will be allowed to defer a year of her scholarship to potentially train full time with the British squad during the 2015/16 Olympic season.

And British National Performance Director Graeme Thompson hopes more British talent will follow Nixon’s footsteps by earning scholarships at American universities.

“Claire going to Hawaii is not just a big step forward for her but also for GB female player development,” said Thompson.

“There is a myriad of foreigner players over in the USA college system along with it being a key playing environment for USA players.

“The USA are the present Olympic gold medallists and the most consistently high performing nation in female water polo so she will be competing amongst some of the strongest competition available in the female world.

“She also gets an education and it’s really important that she achieves in the academic field as well as in the pool, to enable her to have ongoing career development for post her Water Polo one.

“I envisage other players, both boys and girls, wanting to follow suit in the future. There are plenty of youngsters in GB with good talent and strong ambition and attitude, who are capable of doing the same as Claire.”

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