G’day from Australia!
I am writing February’s blog from the AIS in Canberra and believe it or not, it is raining outside right now! We arrived just over a week ago to beautiful sunshine and it stayed sunny all week up, right up until our one day off when it rained most of the day! That was two days ago and it hasn’t stopped raining since.
We arrived at the AIS last Monday, exhausted after 35 hours of travelling. That same afternoon we had to fight off not only the sleep but also the Aussie team because we played against them within a few hours of getting here. I was lucky to have got some reasonable sleep on the flight, but lots of the girls had only slept on the plane for couple of hours so that first game was as tough mentally as it was physically.
Since then we’ve quickly settled into the pattern of training every morning and playing against the Aussies each evening. As I write, we haven’t yet beaten them, but we have come close and we’ve played some incredibly hard matches.
At the moment the Australians are one of the top-ranked teams in the world so it has been great preparation for us having such high-intensity matches every day. They are also known as one of the dirtiest teams and they have certainly lived up to their reputation – many of us are covered in scratches and bruises, and one of us is even out for a while with a broken rib! We try to give as good as we get, but they are also about twice the size of us too!
Staying at the AIS has been a real eye opener; the facilities are amazing! Within a single campus they have swimming pools, netball-, basketball- and tennis courts, football-, rugby- and athletics fields, a huge gym, rehab centre, recreational rooms, accommodation blocks and a food hall with a huge variety of delicious food. I’m particularly loving the free hot chocolate machines dotted around everywhere!
On our one day off we headed to the coast for the day. Everyone swam in the sea despite the rain and the fear of sharks. I had spent half of the journey to the beach promising people that there wouldn’t be any sharks and it was ok to swim, so I too was horrified when we spotted fins through the waves. But anxiety quickly turned to excitement when we realised they were dolphins… This was brilliant and for most of the girls it was the first time they had seen dolphins in the wild.
This day was extra special for me as my dad, who lives in New Zealand, was able to come with us to the beach. He had flown over to Oz the previous night to support some of our matches and it’s been really nice having him here because he used to watch all my matches growing up in NZ. The last time I had seen him was in China last August at the World Uni Games.
Tonight we play the last official match against Australia before heading back to the UK tomorrow. We’re not in England for long, though, and next week we head to Italy for the next round of the LEN Champions Cup.
After this we are in Manchester for a while getting ready for the ‘London Prepares’ water polo test event in London from 3–6 May. This is a great opportunity for anyone who didn’t get water polo tickets for the Olympics (and those who did!) to see the Olympic water polo venue and support us in our build-up to the games. It’s a four nation tournament between GB, Hungary, USA and Australia, and we are hoping for a good home crowd. So it would be great to see everyone there! Tickets go on sale to the general public on 15 March but water polo fans can get priority booking from 13 March using the special code here:
Hopefully see you there!