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Woman up - the monthly blog of the GB Women’s Water Polo Team - Christmas update

Keep up with Great Britain’s Women’s Water Polo team, powered by British Gas, through their regular blog.

In this update covering November and December, the team continue their exploits in the Hungarian League as well as building up to their first European Championship Qualifier.

November and December are always bustling months in the water polo world.

We had a few birthdays through the month - this meant delicious birthday cakes baked by our fabulous baker Fran Clayton!

The team have travelled to Hungary (our second home!) nearly every weekend over the past two months.

Throughout the Hungarian National League, Szlveszter has adapted training to optimise players’ speed, strength and skills. It’s always difficult creating the right balance between keeping fit and burning all the girls out!

Luckily, most of the squad are extremely organised. We have to be, trying to fit work hours in and around the water polo schedule as well as completing university assignments on time.

We also had a few birthdays through the month which were a nice distraction. Alex Rutlidge celebrated her 22nd birthday, Claire Nixon her 17th and Chloe Wilcox her 24th. This meant delicious birthday cakes brought by the birthday girl or baked by our fabulous baker Fran Clayton for the whole squad to enjoy!

The team has performed well despite the extra travelling these last two months.

The extensive time we spend on aeroplanes makes us near-qualified to fly themselves! Navigating around the once unknown territory of Hungary comes easily nowadays - we've have conquered many a foreign swimming pool!

When we started in the Hungarian water polo league, there was mass media interest from our hosts. And as Christmas drew closer, the cameras were still rolling.

There's been no let up in the pressure on us to keep up the good performances but all the players are stepping up, time and time again to take responsibility - something we have been discussing in our team meetings.

The girls have been scoring penalties flawlessly, executing counter attacks and placing accurate shots into the back of the net. It's fantastic to watch and play in when all the piece fit perfectly together like we do at times.

Our first match after Christmas is against Szentes and we're playing them twice in a weekend on the 14th and 15th of January.

Last time the squad faced the Szentes team, the girls were strong in defence with quick reactions in dropping back on the Szentes centre forward, strong blocks and confident shots at goal.

We faced pond-like water, questionable penalties and a clingy opposition - but we know what to expect this time round.

The team started the game with a drop but Szentes began with a press so changing our defence to match the opposition means we would have a fairer chance against each other and therefore a test to see which team possesses better endurance.

The girls had to face pond-like water, several questionable penalties against which goalkeeper Rosie bagged a few saves and clingy opposition.

Unfortunately last time, Szentes won the match 7-3 but we know what to expect this time round.

Szentes will have trained over Christmas preparing for the LEN Trophy but we have been training hard at home over the holidays and in Manchester to improve on the result last time.

Every match we play in Hungary is worthwhile and valuable experience for the swiftly approaching London Olympic Games in 2012.

On 29th January , we are starting our European Championships 2012 Qualifying campaign. Our first game is against Israel at Loughborough at 8pm.

All the ladies are extremely excited, espeically about the games being held at home. It's a great chance for our families to come and watch as well as other people to show support in the game.

Tickets are limited and must be pre-booked and paid for in advance. No tickets will be available on the door.

E-mail or phone Jessica Randall to secure your tickets.

Rachel Drabble and Angie Winstanley-Smith (GB Women's Water Polo)

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