City of Birmingham Swimming Club Synchronised Swimming Section



Club Success Stories

We have had many successes with members becoming Great Britain team members and Midland District champions. Five of our most successful girls in recent years tell their stories below.

Phoebe Bradley-Smith

I started synchronised swimming in 2005 when I was eight years old, I was in my first team at the age of nine and since then I was determined to go all the way. Throughout my time there I have been successful winning a number of gold and silver and bronze medals with many brilliant team mates but mostly in the regional competitions. One of my team mates had been successful for trialling for the England Talent Squad and competed abroad twice. In 2009 at the National competition I also wanted to try and be chosen to trial (I had to be in the top three in twelve and under's and the top sixteen in 13/14) so my aim was top three. I was nervous but worked really hard. The year before I had come eighteenth so I was a little bit anxious. I came 6th and because I was in the under 12 I did not qualify which really upset me but made me even more determined to succeed. So in 2010 I spent most of my free time doing flexi work concentrated on my speed and core strength. It was hard and stressful fitting in early morning training, school and growing piles of homework but I managed it. So that year at nationals with a new set of figures I did all of my figures well and luckily I came seventh so I was able to trial.

I knew I had a lot of work to do and I was really nervous because I didn't really know any of the other girls trialling, I had only seen them at the national competition. It was then a trip to London for a two and a half day trial. I didn't know what to expect so I was really nervous. In the trials they tested our speed, stamina, core, flexibility, and synchronisation and how well we worked as a team. The trials was a great experience and I meet a lot of new people who now are my good friends. The head coach Kate saw some potential in me and I got in! I was invited to all the other training camps. Now I was in the squad the aim was to get into the team.

After many camps and a lot of weeks away from home I found out that I had made it in the team and I was swimming in the team representing England. I felt amazing and that I had made my parents. my club and my coaches proud. The first competition was in Croatia. It was amazing to watch all the other countries train and see how good everyone was, it really motivated me to work harder because I wanted to do well but there was so many girls there. After figures I found out that I came 7th in the England squad which was good for my first international competition. We watched the solo's and duet's which were amazing and gave me a lot of inspiration. Then it was our turn to swim. I was terrified but it was over quickly and the buzz was amazing. I couldn't have wished for a better experience. The England team came 3rd which was amazing, the first medal won internationally in our age group in a very long time. We all did really well.

A week later it was back to training for the Comen cup in Italy. It was during that time that we had the honour of swimming at the Olympic pool performing a display at the 'one year to go' celebration. The pool was amazing but a little bit chilly! We were meeting Olympians and eating lunch with them. It was amazing. After a lot of walk throughs for our unfinished team we performed and it was the best experience ever and the buzz from the crowd was brilliant. We went straight from the Olympic pool to Aldershot where we continued training for Italy.

For the comen cup I was chosen as a reserve which was still great to be there as I got to do figures as well. In figures I came 4th out of England which was a huge leap from last time and even though I didn't do the team I felt like I had achieved a lot more. Unfortunately the team didn't qualify an our journey ended there but we still enjoyed watching the other countries train and we all loved the after-party where the Egyptians took over with their belly dancing which was really fun. This was also an unforgettable experience.

To end my journey with the England talent squad I was invited to trial with the GB girls for the 2012 Olympics. It was obvious that I wasn't going to get in but it was unforgettable. In the short period of time learned so much and it inspired me to work harder and become better. Watching the GB girls train was engrossing and they worked so hard. Trialling was such an incredible experience and made me work harder.

2011 was such an amazing year for me in synchro, I have learnt so much and I can't wait to learn more and become better. I'm really looking forward to 2012.

Yvette BakerYvette Baker

I started swimming in the summer of 2001 aged 9 years. My first achievement was coming 1st in figures in the Warwickshire Age Groups in 2002 and then the following year I was 12 and under champion. 2003 was the first time I qualified to swim my solo at the National Age Groups and I came 5th.

In May 2007 I took part in the Junior GB trials not expecting very much. However, I came 12th and therefore was invited to train with the Junior GB squad on an intensive 5 week training camp at the High Performance Centre in Aldershot.

My target at the National Age Groups in 2007 was to finish in the top 6 - I actually managed to achieve 6th place which meant I had qualified for the second round selection for Junior GB team. I was selected to the team and training started with a 4 week intensive camp at Aldershot followed by the Junior European Championships in Angers, France. The team came 10th. During this time I was also studying for my GCSEs. On return from this competition I then sat my exams which were then followed by a further 1 week of training in Aldershot and 2 weeks in Sicily. This was followed by the Junior World Championships in St Petersburg, Russia. Although we only came 16th out of 17 we had improved so much since the Europeans, apparently the Russians were impressed.

In the National Age Groups 2008 my target was to get a medal - I achieved 3rd place in the figures. Again my finishing place meant I was through to the second round selection for Junior GB team. I qualified and training began with 5 weeks intensive training at Aldershot followed by the Junior Europeans in Gloucester. It felt great to be in front of a home crowd. Both the combo and free team routines finished 9th in the finals. This was a good achievement because we had to adapt the routines and substitute a reserve due to an injury. I was also very pleased with my figure result - 92nd out of 168 and 3rd in the GB team.

The training at this level is very hard and involves getting up at 6.00 a.m. every morning and training until 5.00 p.m. with a maximum of 1 hour for lunch. We did speed swimming, land warm up, stretching, a lot of lengths underwater with team figures added on the end but without coming up for a breath! I have enjoyed my achievements but success can only be achieved if you are prepared to put in a lot of hard work and listen to your coach. The main thing overall is to also enjoy the sport.

Lucy RidgeLucy Ridge

Last December I went to Oxford to try to get into the England Talent Squad for my second year. We had to do figures, learn and short routine and perform it, and flexibility. There were over 40 of us there and I was very nervous. I didn't think I would get in because they were only taking 12, so I forgot about it over Christmas and I was surprised when I found out that I was 11th.

At the first training camp, we started to learn a routine, because the aim is to compete at the Comen Cup in Serbia in August. The Head Coach is Jo Bean (from Trafford) and there are 2 other coaches: Louisa Chadwick and Annabelle Surch-Williams. They are very nice and really motivating.

They re-ranked us at Easter and they told me I was 9th - so I was excited because it meant that I could be the reserve for the Serbia team (2 people won't be going and I thought that I might be one of them). They re-ranked us again in May and now I'm in the middle 4, which is even better - because I could be in the team!

In July we will be going to Aldershot for 2 weeks and will stay at the barracks. They are also going to monitor our progress for the rest of the year.

It's really hard work, but it's fun and I've made some very good friends while I have been there from all over the country. We don't just swim. We went to see Hannah Montana at the cinema and at Easter we stayed in a hotel. Normally I stay with a family from Trafford Synchro, so I feel very at home there.

We train at the Commonwealth pool and it's 5.1 metres deep - so don't lose your noseclip!

Elizabeth SmithElizabeth Smith

I became a member of the City of Birmingham Synchronised Swimming Club at the age of seven after my sister had joined a few years before.

My first achievement was becoming Warwickshire 12 and under champion at the age of nine. I have come first in my age group in all events every year since. I have also been Midland Age Group Champion several times as well as Midland Junior champion at the age of fourteen. I was selected to be a member of the Midland Inter-district Squad in 2003 when my sister and I competed as the Junior Duet for the district. In 2004 I was selected to be the Junior Soloist for the Midlands, as well as being in the duet and the team.

From my placing in the National Age Groups in 2004, I was selected to be part of the England Junior Development Squad in 2005. After further trials I travelled with the team to Croatia to compete where we came first. At the end of 2005 I took part in the trials for the Junior Great Britain Squad for 2006. I was successful and began training with the GB squad that Christmas. I then travelled round the country for National Camps, with training most weekends and every holiday, in preparation for the Junior European Championships in Bonn in May. After trials within the squad, I was selected to be in the travelling squad and one of the eight to swim the team.

Training continued towards the Junior World Championships in October in China. We travelled there two weeks before the event for an intensive pre-competition camp at the British Olympic Holding Camp facilities in Macau. We were placed 13th in the team event, the best ranking Britain has had in thirteen years. In December last year, I took part in the National Age Groups once again. I was hoping to get a medal in the figure event as I had been ranked within the top three juniors my age in the GB squad throughout the year, but I knew this was ambitious. However, I was delighted to discover I had won the figure event becoming 15-17 National Figure Champion.

Mhairi Laing

I first started synchro when I was ten. I loved swimming, and my sister had already been doing synchro for a while, so I decided to follow in her waves!! For the first few years it was all about having fun and learning the basics. It wasn't until I was thirteen and came fifth in 13/14 National Age Groups that everything began to take off. The result meant that I qualified for a two-week training camp with one of America's top coaches. It was the first time I really realised what it would be like to train full time, and what it would take to get to the top!

A couple of years later, I qualified for the Midland district squad. Then, in 2000, with Ali's help, I won National Junior Champs, made it through the assessments, and qualified for the National Junior team. The first year swimming for GB was a massive learning curve. We would train for 20-25 hours during the week, and then have training camps every weekend, and during the holidays. It was hard work, especially fitting training around my GCSE's, but it was all worth it!! In June 2000 the team travelled to Bonn in Germany for the Junior European Championships. It was really exciting seeing all the routines from other countries, and I can still remember the Russian and Spanish teams, which were amazing!

I swam again for GB Juniors in 2001, and this time captained the squad at Junior Europeans in the Ukraine and Junior Worlds in Seattle, which was a lot of fun. It was also nice getting to know some of the girls from other countries. I don't think I'll ever forget walking out to do my solo at Worlds, with the Italian team cheering for me from the balcony!

After my A levels in 2002, I moved to Russia to train full time for a year with one of their coaches. I don't think there was a single day of the whole year when I wasn't exhausted or in pain from training so hard, but it was all worth it in 2004 when I qualified for the 2004 Olympic duet squad. 2004 was a very busy year, with training camps and competitions all over the world. In April the duet qualified for the Olympics, but for one reason or another they decided not to send anyone. That we weren't sent to the Olympics in 2004 was a massive disappointment, and I retired soon after that.

However, there isn't a single thing I would change. I think synchro in great sport. It teaches the girls how to work as a team, have grace as well as fitness, and gives them the opportunity to travel the world! My tips for the top would be to train hard every session, and listen to Ali. If it weren't for her none of the above would have happened!!



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