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Transition Time: Olympic Selection and European Champs

8th June 2012

With Olympic selection confirmed last month, the British Gas GBR Synchronised Swimming Team travelled to compete at the European Championships in Eindhoven. Team member Asha Randall fills us in on their progress over the last four weeks.

Qualifiers

We travelled as a team to London on April 14th for the Olympic Synchro test event. I felt quite calm the night before the Team Tech on the 19th but my roomie Katie Skelton and I were talking about how exciting it was going to be to hear the crowd and wondering how loud it was going to be.

The Tech day went well. We had a steady swim with well-executed elements so everyone was pleased. The Team Free was on the 21st so we wasted no time after the Team Tech and were straight into the training pool to prepare.

I was a little more nervous for the Team Free. I had a couple of friends coming to watch and they’d never seen synchro live before so that was quite exciting and I had family there too on that day.

There were slightly more spectators for the Free and I remember the cheer from the crowd was so much louder than the Tech day. To think that the stands were nowhere near as full as they will be at the Games just gives me goosebumps thinking about it!

The swim went well again – there was good cohesion and we kept our energy up right to the end. The response from the crowd was amazing and I just can’t wait experience it for real at the Games!

The Trials

There are 13 girls in the British Synchro Team but only nine can go to the Olympics so this season we have been put through three phases of trials.

Most recently, we had the final phase where the final nine was decided from 10 swimmers. The trial lasted for six days and we were assessed mainly on our team technical routine because this event consists of certain compulsory elements and our coaches wanted to see how well we could perform them.

We drew height checks on to our legs with black marker pen so the coaches could evaluate our height and make sure we were making the height requirements throughout the routine. If the line was visibly out with no splash covering it you got the check! But if there was the slight bit of water covering it, it was a no!

It was a really challenging week and everyone had to work so hard to make sure they got that check!

After the final trial, we were all told individually by our National Performance Director Biz Price if we were selected of not. This was a very tense and nervous time for all of us.

We waited together in the centre and were called into the office one by one. It was a very hard time for the one girl who didn’t make the team but we are such a close team that everyone was so supportive and she will still be part of our journey. All four girls who weren’t selected from the second and third trials are still part of the GB squad and will train with us the whole time leading up the Olympics.

  Our announcement day on May 8th was a very
  exciting day for the nine girls. We had a lot of
  media at the pool filming our training session
  before the official announcement and were able
  to wear the Olympic tracksuit for the first time
  which was very exciting.

  I haven’t been able to celebrate properly but the
  selected nine were lucky enough to be invited to
  Our Greatest Team Rises Event at the Royal
  Albert Hall.

  It was a once in a lifetime event for all the
  TeamGB and ParalympicsGB athletes to
  celebrate their London 2012 selection together
  with performances from Gary Barlow, Will
  Young, Spellbound and the Feeling.

His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge also attended this event along with The Duchess of Cambridge and Jenna (Randall) and Olivia (Federici) were lucky enough to be on the Royal table sat right next to The Duke of Cambridge!

European Championships

We arrived for the Europeans on May 20th which was the last day of the diving competition in Eindhoven. We arrived in time to go to the pool and watch Tom Daley’s 10m final which he won.

It was great to be able to watch and support him and also see our diver friends that we have become close to over the years.

It really made us fight for the Team Free and we had a very energetic swim which the coaches were pleased with.

This competition didn’t start as well as we had hoped – not because of our swims but because of the judging. We felt our swims weren’t marked high enough while the Greece team – who were visibly not as experienced – were marked much higher in the Team Technical.

When it came to the Free Team Preliminary in the evening of the same day the marking improved and we were placed ahead of Greece which made us much happier! The results of the Tech had disappointed us but it really made us fight for the Team Free and we had a very energetic swim which the coaches were really pleased with.

Our swims in Eindhoven were definitely a step up from Olympic Qualifiers and the team ended up finishing fifth. Jenna and Olivia did some amazing swims to finish seventh in the duet.

We had two days off when we came back from Eindhoven and on our first day, we went as a team to the Old Thorns Golf and Country Club Spa.

We have recently been sponsored by Syneron Candela which is a laser hair removal company and they set up a day at the spa for us where we had our laser treatment and also a complimentary spa treatment. Most of the girls opted for the full body massage, I went for the OPI manicure!

My second day off was just as exciting as I went to The X-Factors London auditions at the O2 with Jenna and Katie Skelton.

The day was amazing to experience the auditions live and know how everything works. It was very surreal watching it in person and not through the TV.

We are now back to training and making changes to our routines to take them to the next level before the Games which will be our next competition!

The team is on great form and we are definitely on track for the Olympics. Team spirit is very high and we’re working so well together right now to achieve our goals!

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