Skelmanthorpe Synchro Swimmer ends Year of Success with Coveted Place on England GB National Training Squad
What a difference a year makes! Only 12 months ago, Skelmanthorpe Synchro Swimmer, Emma (now 12) who trains with and represents the City Of Leeds, was disappointed to rank just 81st in the country, when competing in the National Championships, held each December in Gloucester.
With many of her team mates scoring much higher, Emma – who is a pupil at Scissett Middle School – was bitterly disappointed to miss out on a place on the sport’s ‘Beacon’ programme, which provides additional training and support to help the highest achieving and most promising athletes achieve their full potential.
Despite her disappointment, Emma knew she could achieve so much more. Inspired by her older team mate, team GB International athlete Rebecca Richardson (who now studies and trains in America) Emma increased her training to over 20 hours per week. When not in the pool, Emma would work on her flexibility and core strength through additional land training. Emma’s determination clearly paid off when in September she secured a THREE individual Gold medals and a Silver team medal in the Yorkshire & North East Region Championships.
Emma then went on to win TWO further individual Gold medals in the North of England Age Group Championships in October, bringing her gold medal haul to 5. Not one to rest on her laurels, Emma wanted to build upon her success, and was delighted to secure a Silver team medal in the Scottish Nationals in Glasgow at the end of October. Then in November, it was the National Championships in Gloucester. This time Emma was ready.
Against over 130 of the top athletes in her age group from right across the UK, Emma was delighted to move from 81st to 3rd in the country and win an individual bronze medal! She also secured 4th place for her duet with partner Darcy Irwin, 4th place for her team performance, and a 6th place for her solo performance, which was an absolutely amazing achievement. Emma’s progress did not go unnoticed, and she was thrilled when she was invited to join 29 other girls from the 300+ athletes competing, to trial for the England GB National Training Squad. With less than 7 days to prepare for a full day trial in Bristol, Emma’s grit and determination stood her in good stead again. Her training was crammed into every available moment around school and homework, and even included a 4.30am start on the Thursday morning!
After a gruelling 8 hour trial the following Saturday, Emma knew she had done everything she could. She now had to wait patiently to find out if she was one of the 20 who would have the opportunity to train towards representing their country on the international stage. The following Tuesday, the news Emma had been waiting for arrived. She had been successful and was being invited to join the England GB National Development squad. What a turn around!
Despite all this success, Emma’s feet are firmly planted on the ground (except when she is in the water, of course!). She knows there is far more hard work ahead, and that as a member of the development squad, she is only on the first step of the ladder. But Emma is confident that with the amazing coaching she receives from her coaches at the City of Leeds Synchronised Swimming club, along with the support of her team mates – many of whom have become close friends – she can continue to learn, improve and represent her team, her region and her country – with pride and success – at the highest level.
The last words go to Emma. “I am so excited to have this opportunity. I could not have done it without all the help of my coaches at the City of Leeds, the encouragement of my team mates, and support of my family. My School, Scissett Middle, have also been great too, allowing me flexibility with my homework in order to fit in my training schedule – which has been so helpful. Even if I had not got the England place, the selection process was amazing. I learned so much. It was such an honour to meet the other international athletes such as Olympian Katie Clark, Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe – All of them were so inspirational, and such nice people. I am so grateful and cannot wait to get started!”
About Synchronised Swimming
Can you imagine running for up to five minutes while performing acrobatics, holding your breath, looking graceful, and having to keep in time to the music? No? That’s synchronised swimming! Synchro routines are athletic movements performed in water and choreographed to music. It is an incredibly strenuous and skilful sport. In fact, a test on all the Olympic sports before the London 2012 Olympic Games found synchro swimmers ranked second to long distance runners in aerobic capacity! Synchro swimmers need strength to perform twists and lifts and can hold their breath underwater for around a minute. They also need rhythm and flair to synchronise and interpret the music, which they listen to through underwater speakers. Anyone interested in giving Synchronised Swimming a go, should contact their local swimming pool to enquire about taster sessions.