Hello, again! I’m writing to you from my hotel room in Budapest on a Friday morning. We arrived last night to play our last Hungarian National League matches against B.V.S.C. We’ll play them twice over the weekend in a best-of-three series; if we don’t win both matches we’ll have to come back another time for the deciding game. Previously in the league we’ve had two wins and a draw against this side so we’re hoping we can finish them off this weekend!
On returning from my visits to Hungary people often ask how my ‘holiday’ was… hmm, these trips are anything but glamorous. A normal day consists of breakfast in the hotel cafe then back to our rooms for rest before an hour of training in the pool. Then it’s lunch – usually a pasta dish or some chicken and rice – and back to our rooms for the afternoon where we usually sleep or watch DVDs (it’s a hard life!). We meet a couple of hours before the game for a team talk, then we warm up and go into battle. Afterwards we head straight back to the hotel for tea and then bed. From this you’ll gather that we spend a lot of time in our rooms so it’s always a bonus if the hotel is nice and your roommate doesn’t talk in their sleep!
On our last trip to Hungary we had a surprise ‘out of the pool’ session with three times Olympic gold medallist, Gergerly Kiss. He’s been in the Hungarian national men’s water polo team since he was 22 when he won gold at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Since then he’s gone on to win gold in Athens and Beijing. It was really interesting to hear his stories and get his advice as he too is in training for London 2012, where he’ll be seeking his fourth consecutive gold.
Since my last blog we’ve progressed a step closer to qualifying for the Europeans by beating Ukraine the 26th March. We flew out to Budapest on the Sunday before the match for preparatory training against the Hungarian national squad. Unfortunately I woke up next day with a fever and ‘flu symptoms and had to spend the next few days in bed. So, on the Thursday when the rest of the girls flew on to Kiev to face Ukraine, I was n a plane back to Manchester! In the Ukraine the girls dominated from early on and won convincingly 11-7, even with an 8 hour bus journey to the pool each way!
Our next match in the European qualification series is on the 30th April in Manchester against Spain. This will be a tough game because Spain are previous European silver medallists. My brother has organised a group of our friends (including some Penguins) to come up from London to support us. Fingers crossed we get a sell out crowd to carry us to a sneaky victory.
It was a great night at the Penguin 90th Anniversary Dinner last Saturday. We had a delicious meal followed by lots of dancing, including some impressive break dancing from Marta and Magda! Congrats to all the team winners especially Lily who won Athlete of the Year. A massive thank you to those who organised the night, it was a huge success! (See some of the photos here).
Hopefully I’ll see you in Manchester on the 30th to help us sink the Spanish Armada!
Note from the editor: see Francesca pictured in the May 2011 issue of Swimming Times.