ASA chats to Leeds Synchro Beacon Programme

At the British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards (BEDSA), we caught up with Sarah Speers, Head Coach of the Leeds Synchro Beacon Programme to find out what they’re up to in 2016…

Leeds Synchro: Guest Coaches

All our squads at the club are training really hard at the moment and I think we have a really good training programme put together. We have a lot of good targets that we are working towards this year so training has increased and we are looking for the swimmers to work extra hard this year.

Thanks to Leeds City Council, the ASA and also Leeds University we have been able to have Biz Price and Paola Basso come up to work with our coaches and give us some new training techniques and ideas.

Biz worked with our two athletes who on the England Talent junior squad – Rebecca Richardson and Greta Rose Hampson.

“Paola worked specifically with 14 coaches from across the North to grow our technical knowledge and help us understand how to make the most out of every training session.”

She helped set session-specific goals to help the girls focus on a particular goal each time they train. This has become really important for us as the girls train separately during the week and come together at camps and at weekends.

Biz also spoke about developing successful team cultures with coaching and sport development staff at the University of Leeds as well as four synchro coaches.

“It’s not only about the senior athletes on the Leeds Synchro programme, but it’s also about making sure all our sessions, at every level, are high quality.”

Paola worked specifically with 14 coaches from across the North to grow our technical knowledge and help us understand how to make the most out of every training session.

I received some fantastic feedback from the coaches involved in these sessions and we are working hard to improve all our sessions. It’s not only about the senior athletes on the Leeds Synchro programme, but it’s also about making sure all our sessions, at every level, are high quality.

“All the swimmers on the programme were really inspired by both Biz and Paolo”

Both Biz and Paola emphasised that everything we do in training has to have a specific purpose and that the swimmers also need to understand what they are doing and why. We all have limited time and space in the pool and maximising the use of this by being extremely focused is key.

All the swimmers on the programme were really inspired by both Biz and Paolo. Not only were they challenged by the sessions but it was really helpful for them to understand how important it is to believe in themselves and lift their expectations.

Leeds Synchro: Masters

We’ve also started a Masters team and we are really excited about going to the Europeans in London. It’s a fantastic opportunity for anybody in aquatics and we are really excited to have the chance to go.

There are currently eight Masters swimmers training for Europeans and three swimmers who have just started to learn synchro. We are always encouraging more people to get involved and start synchro, it’s great exercise and fun!

It’s challenging because everyone has their personal commitments – work, children, family etc, but we are having lots of fun and everyone is enjoying the routine. We are trying to get through larger sections of the routine each session now and improve our synchronisation and fitness.

Leeds Synchro: Boys Sessions

One of the things we are starting to look into at the moment is encouraging more boys to get involved with the sport. We have been working with Sarah [Darragh], the ASA’s National Synchro Development Officer, to start engaging with local clubs and schools and get them to come and try the sport in a club environment.

We are also looking at opportunities to extend the AquaFun synchro lessons more generally. An important part of this will be to find a satellite session specifically targeting boys. A Scouts group near a swimming pool, or a boys school with a pool would be ideal to do this.

Hopefully by organising these sessions it will create a positive atmosphere and help make synchro accessible for everyone.

  • Further information about ASA England Programmes Synchro squads can be found here.
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