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Follow in footsteps of GB international Sophie Jackson by taking unique course

Talented water polo players looking to further their education could follow in the footsteps of Great Britain international Sophie Jackson by signing up to a unique course.

Applications are now open for the government-funded Aquatic Diploma in Sporting Excellence (DiSE), which is delivered by Dudley College of Technology in partnership with Swim England.

It is a two-year course which is aimed at talented swimmers, para-swimmers, divers, synchronised swimmers and water polo players.

Previous graduates include Jackson, Olympic champion Adam Peaty, Paralympic gold medallist Jessica-Jane Applegate, world champion diver Tom Daley and Olympic synchronised swimming hopeful Isabelle Thorpe.

The programme is delivered across the country through face-to-face regional workshops, online learning progress review visits and an offshore training camp or competition.

It covers a range of topics including technical and tactical skills, physical capability, nutrition, psychology, lifestyle, career, communication, health and safety plus culture, values and behaviour.

Synchronised swimmer Thorpe, who is currently in Gwangju for the World Championships, said: “I found that the DiSE programme helped me to better set goals for myself in all areas of my training and life – not just in the technical and physical aspects but in other areas like career and financial planning.

“It was interesting to document and think about how to demonstrate some of the key skills learnt on the programme.

“As I am competing at the highest level in our sport, I was unable to attend many of the workshops and the camp. However, the assessors were really helpful and guided me through what was needed to be completed by using the evidence and resources from the GB camps and competitions I was attending.”

Swimmer Millie Sansome took part in the course during 2017-18.

She said: “I would definitely recommend it to all athletes.

“The work is equally split up over various workshops throughout the year which makes it manageable whilst balancing school, training and other extra-curricular activities.

“I really enjoyed learning about all the different factors that come with being an elite athlete, some of which you don’t normally think about such as the importance of communication between the athlete and your coach, physio nutritionist or strength and conditioning coach.

“Taking part in the DiSE programme is an enjoyable and interactive way to get a qualification for doing something that you are passionate about whilst making new friends at the same time.”

One of the best things I’ve done

And Rosie Gunn, who has competed for Great Britain at the European Junior Synchronised Swimming Championships, added: “I took part in the Diploma in Sporting Excellence course in 2017 and I would say this course was one of the best things I have done.

“It taught me many things like finances for when I’m older and helped me with how to control my nerves before competing.

“What I mainly enjoyed about this course is I got to meet new people and make new friends from all over the country from different sports.

“And I even got a chance to try their sports when we had a week away in Croatia which was amazing.”

The DiSE is open to athletes born between 1 September 2002 and 31 August 2003 who live in England, are studying further education such as A-levels or BTEC studies in England from September 2019 and are a member of an English club or currently represent England, Scotland or Wales.

You will also need to be selected by the Swim England Talent Development Officer for either water polo/diving/synchronised swimming or meet the Swimming Selection Policy.

Applications for the course close on Sunday 4 August with the water polo induction day taking place on Sunday 15 September.

Rachel Weston, from Dudley College, said: “This unique programme aims to support athlete development by enhancing the athlete’s knowledge skills and competency in their sport, whilst gaining a recognised qualification.

“It will help them to continue competing in their sport at an elite level or to gain employment within sport or within an alternative pathway.”

To find out more about the scheme, email [email protected], call (01509) 640 456 or fill in the online application form.

Past athletes to complete the Aquatic Diploma in Sporting Excellence include:

Water polo

  • Sophie Jackson
  • Katy Cutler
  • Robyn Greenslade
  • Isabelle Dean
  • Milly Wordley
  • Lara Partridge
  • Emily Pyper
  • Anya Clipperton
  • Kathy Rogers
  • Thomas Manley
  • Jordan Elliot
  • Joel Leighton