All posts tagged NCAA

Alejandra Aznar USC

After clinching gold and the MVP trophy at the European Youth Water Polo Championships with the Spanish national team, Alejandra Aznar moved to the United States in the 2018-19 season. The young and talented leftie (2000) is one of the great hopes of the future and present of the Spain’s senior team.

In the current Academic year, Aznar has played for one of the top universities on the West Coast of the United States, USC Los Angeles. She finished runner-up in the women’s water polo national championship and also with her club team in Spain, CN Sant Andreu.

 

How has your experience been in the United States?

I have learned a lot. Living far from home and alone, with a different language and country is not easy… In terms of water polo, there are many different things in comparison to Spain.

 

Why did you decide to take your first college year in California?

The truth is that juggling academics and water polo is very easy in the US. Playing and studying in the same place makes it very convenient. Also, when I finished high school in Barcelona I wanted to start a new experience far from home, and now that I’m young I think it’s the best moment.

 

How would you rate this year in the US together with your teammate in Sant Andreu, Mireia Guiral?

She is my best friend and the truth is that things have been much easier with her, because I knew I could count on her in case there were bad moments. Even though I never had to face any tough time, it was always good to have her at home after training on when I needed a break.

 

The next season is prior to the Toquio Olympic Games … Will you stay in USC or home?

Next year I will continue with my club team in Barcelona, CN Sant Andreu. Next year there will be many calls-up and trainings with the national team in preparation for the Olympic Games, that’s why I think I really need to be home.

 

What is your main objective at the sports level for the season 19-20?

Being able to make it for the last calls-up with the national team and take advantage of these practices to learn and improve.

 

How do you see the Spanish team? Do you see yourself with possibilities to enter the team and maybe go to the Olympic Games?

It’s very difficult and on top of that they have reduced the number of players permitted in the squad. It is still early to draw conclusions, but what I can assure is that I will train the hardest I can to make it until the last trainings.

 

Do you plan to return to the United States at some point during your college period?

I think this is something I have in my mind. The truth is that I adjusted quite well to the California lifestyle and I like pretty much everything about living in the US.

 

How different is American water polo compared to Spain?

In the US everything is very planned and marked, all teams do a lot tactical work, specially where I’ve played (USC). Referees call kickouts very easily in the center position, so you have to be very focused in the defence. I also think there’s more contact here when playing.

 

In what aspects do you think you stand out more than other local players due to the fact that you have trained in one of the water polo capitals of the world?

I think that technique is the most important skill that I have practiced since I started playing water polo, both in my club teams in Barcelona and also in the high performance center CAR Sant Cugat. I think that’s not something in the US people focus on that much.

 

Undoubtedly, Spain is one of the top countries in women’s water polo. Still, the United States team seems unbeatable. Why do you think that happens?

I think they are physically ahead of the rest of the teams. I also think that they have very good technique, but I believe the physical aspect is what makes the difference.

 

What would you highlight the most about how to train and play in California?

As I said, teams prepare a lot every game. When I arrived, they gave me a folder to write down the plays and the planning of each game. During the week you already know what plays we will do in each quarter and how we will defend in the weekend game.

paula abellan
 Hi, my name is Paula Abellan and I am currently studying and playing waterpolo at CSUN (California State University of Northridge). This is my second year and the truth is that is been much easier to be here, away from my family, than last year. Last year was hard because all the changes that I had to make such as language, culture, food, and people. Everything got much better this second year, and the biggest change is where I am living this year. I am living in an apartment so that lets me eat healthier than last year.
About our practices, this year our practices are a little bit different from last year. Last year we spent the first 2 months of school JUST SWIMMING, and as a waterpolo player, we kind of hate that. This year has been more waterpolo skills and I am excited for that. Next week, we start practicing 20 hours per week, and the whole team is excited about it because that means that we are going to play more waterpolo, and that’s good, because we are not playing in any type of tournament or official game until January.
Last year I had my complications, and I thought about leaving and going back home with my family, but I didn’t. I realized that here my team is my second family, and that the education that I am getting here, I am not going to get it over there. I am so grateful that I decided to stay and I am so happy that two years ago, I decided to look for a scholarship in the United States. So my recommendation for everyone is, DO IT. If you have the opportunity to do it, to come here, to study here, DO IT. Because this experience is awesome.
Barcelona is one of the most important cities when talking about water polo. It has been the host to the Olympic Games (1992), Worlds (2003 and 2013), European Cups (2014 and 2015 Final Six) and will host the European Championships in 2018. The city also contains very excellent facilities that allow athletes to develop into their full potential. We could highlight all of the terrific aspects of the city, but the list is endless so we will only refer to a few:
  • High Performance Center of Sant Cugat CAR 
This is the birthplace of the Spanish Olympics. Because of there facilities, they have harvested some of the most well known Olympic sport legends. With a lot of sweat and tears these prestigious athletes have reached the highest level in their respected sports.
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  • Blume
If the CAR is the cradle, Joaquin Blume of Barcelona is the residence and genesis of Spanish water polo and all of its successes. The golden generation of great deeds has brought them international success for which they are known today.
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  • Municipal pools of Montjuic
These pools are indescribable. They overlook all of Barcelona and they are the the usual venue for major events that the city hosts. With the beautiful views of Barcelona, great facilities and athletic attraction these pools have been proclaimed world champions of Europe.
But this is does not contain the facilities and in the city and its surroundings where many teams participate in friendly matches and trainings in order to improve the competitiveness of the sport.
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Therefore, for those athletes who have contacted BIWPA, Barcelona offers multiple opportunities. Since 2014, nearly 20 teams from around the world have used Barcelona International Waterpolo Academy to prepare for a major event or simply to progress as a team through competition.
And the opportunity BIWPA offers in this area is unmatched. Barcelona has seen teams from Sweden, United States, Netherlands, Australia, Portugal, France … and many have come back to enjoy this experience once more.
Of course there is a special collaboration with the many different Catalan clubs that reside in this area. This collaboration has allowed teams that have come through BIWPA to play against these remarkable clubs.
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Finally, sports aside, there are countless opportunities offered in one of the most important cities in the world. Overlooking the Mediterranean, as it has always been throughout its history, Barcelona has many things to see: jewels of Modernism and contemporary architecture, markets, treasures of the ancient Roman and medieval town …
Barcelona Gauí

Barcelona Gauí

How did you learn about BIWPA?

My mother looked for a water polo campus in Barcelona and she came across BIWPA, which was good because I could learn the language and the Spanish culture.

What skills do you want to develop in the academy?

Ball handling; we work a lot with the ball and we improve both on offesnse and defense.

Why did you choose Barcelona for your training?

My mother wanted me to learn Spanish and I believed that Barcelona would be the best place for me to improve my skills.

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And is it?

Yes, I came last year and this year I decided to repeat because it is a great experience. I learned many things during this time. I believe that it is a good way of integrating a new style of playing water polo with the style of the USA.

How important is meeting new people and learning languages during this process?

It is very important, the more relations I have the better I get along with them. The language can help you to function in other countries and have some additional resource to English.

Spending your second year in BIWPA, do you already feel as a veteran?

(Laughs) A little, but there is still much work to do.

Do you believe that training in BIWPA might help you to get a university scholarship?

I am going to try it, yes. If I obtained a scholarship I would feel that I have been successful in water polo, and this program is helped me to reach this goal.

 

How did you learn about BIWPA?

During a tournament in the USA I saw a BIWPA flyer, I took it and pretty liked what I saw.

What skills do you want to develop in the academy?

I have not set any goal in particular since I am in BIWPA. Perhaps swimming, strength, throwing … Everything has improved since I came 6 months ago to the Academy.

And some goal that you set for yourself?

I want to shoot more, sometimes I am too shy when it is about throwing, I want to be more self-confident, it is my main problem.

Why did you choose Barcelona for your training?

First of all, I think that European water polo is of a higher level. Also, there is no better place than Barcelona because it is beautiful, the best city of Spain and it is always a reference in terms of water polo quality.

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Have you been here before?

I spent here for one week when I was 7, but this is the first time when I stay for so long.

What does it mean to come to Barcelona as a young water polo player?

It is a big challenge. I would not have been achieved it without Ferran or anybody in this swimming pool (points at his teammates), because to be alone is difficult, but with friends like these one can feel comfortable.

How important is it to meet new people and learn a new language during this process?

It is important to meet people from all over the world, the more friends you have the more lucky you are. Spanish gives you more opportunities to find a job, that is why I want to use a chance to learn the language along with improving my water polo level.

Do you believe that BIWPA might have helped you choose a university with a scholarship?

Yes, I am sure that yes. I need to keep on training, because if I leave BIWPA and stop doing that I am not going to achieve any scholarship. But if I go on improving my skills as I am doing in BIWPA I am sure I can get it.

Marina Daroca from United States. University of San Diego State
We started practices about a month and a half ago, we have very intense swim sets every day and we are practicing hard getting ready for season even if it doesn’t starts until January. We practice 4 hours a day in the mornings from 6 to 10  trying always to get the most from those hours, the motivation that my team has to achieve good results is incredible. What shocked me the most about how they practice here in the US is their way to do weights. Here they do olympic weights like cleans, clean deadlifts, olympic squats, pull ups and sequences of abdominal exercises are the ones that we do the most. There very intense but slowly, every workout we do outside the water are making effect and creating great results inside the water.
This year I believe that we have a great team and we are all very excited to demonstrate how hard we are working. The girls on the team have been amazingly nice to me, there is a lot of respect between each other and we are always trying to make as many team bonding meetings as we possibly can going to the beach, having barbecues, hanging out…
MARINA1
I am so happy that I decided to come to San Diego State University, I get to study and get the major that I really want to have, I get to practice the sport that I love the most and I also have the opportunity of being in one of the most beautiful Colleges around the US. Being able to say that I am an Aztec and that I live in San Diego is one of the most amazing experiences I will ever get to have.

Where do you come from? And how old are you?

San Diego, California and I am 22 years old.

What did you study?

Business and Communications at UC San Diego

Why did you come to Spain?

I wanted to try a different level of water polo and have a different kind of experience. I thought that Spain was a good option because there is a very good level here and the sport is very popular in Barcelona.

What kind of differences have you seen since you have been in Barcelona?

The water polo in Barcelona is completely different than what I know in the United States. The type of play is unlike that of the US. The players are much smaller here, so they are forced to be more creative. In the US players are bigger and stronger so its a different type game.

In Europe our sports system corresponds with local clubs, but in the US high level sports are more associated with the education. In your opinion, what is best for an athlete?

I don´t know what I prefer yet, but playing at University is easier because everything is centrally located. In Spain it is easy for me because I only have to play water polo, I don´t have to do both.

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Why is female team of the United States so good? They just won the World Championship…

It’s really amazing. They are one of the best teams in the world. In the US we train very hard and compete at a very high level. Just like in Europe, water polo is extremely competitive.

And what about you? What do you expect from being in Spain?

I hope to gain a lot by being here, with water polo and with the culture. Sometimes its difficult because I don’t speak the language yet, but day by day I am getting better.

What do you know about your rivals in the spanish league?

I just know about the teams in the top five.

What do you think about BIWPA?

I think its is amazing! The Academy gives athletes a unique opportunity and in America there is nothing like this. I am always telling Cristina how great I think BIWPA is for water polo athletes.

Do you recommend to american players to come to Spain?

Definitely! I think the Spanish style puts much importance on fundamental skill and I think its a great opportunity for young athletes.

How did you learn about BIWPA?

I was looking for a program that included water polo in order to finish my high school career. I searched water polo in Europe and BIWPA was one of the first results that I had found. I have studied Spanish before, so an option to pursue my water polo career in Spain really helped me make my decision.

What skills do you want to develop in the academy?

I hope to gain experience a lot of experience at the academy. The athletes who study at the university – that is where I want to play – have much more experience than I do. It takes 5 or 6 years of playing water polo in order to gain this type of knowledge. I hope to gain this type of experience with BIWPA. Also, my position is a center, so I would like to improve my defensive play.

Why did you choose Barcelona for your training?

Like I have mentioned earlier, I am familiar with the Spanish language and it seems to be a beautiful city.

 

 

What does it mean to come to Barcelona as a young water polo player?

I am not familiar with the history of water polo that exists in Spain since it is my first time here. When I came, Yuri and Cristina explained to me the long tradition of water polo that exists in Catalonia and the area of Barcelona.

And what are your first impressions?

Coming to play with BIWPA in Barcelona was a big change. It was definitely a challenge in a new city. Also, the demand for the sport was something that I had to adjust to. I was accustomed to training 2 hours for 4 days a week. When I came to Spain I training 5 hours every day.  So yes, it has been a big change for me.

How important is it to meet new people and learn a new language during this process?

Meeting new people was not the most important during this process; rather learning a new language wasthe most important to me. Knowing a different language can help you find work in the future, now I can speak Spanish!

Could you say anything in Spanish now?

(Laughs) Ask me a question.

Do you believe that BIWPA might have helped you choose a university with a scholarship?

(In Spanish) I believe that yes, after 10 months I have the experience to play a higher level than ever before.

My experience at the BIWPA camp was phenomenal. My daily routine was drastically changed in the best way possible. I went to sleep and woke up at a great time, I ate balanced meals, and I drank Isostar which is a protein shake that allowed my body to work at it’s full potential. My routines for exercise in and out of the pool changed too. I wasn’t the only person going through these changes. I have teammates from Brazil, Italy, Denmark, France, and all over the world that were with me. I learned from the coaches but I also learned from the playing style of my peers. But all good things must come to an end and July 11th was that day.

Biwpa Camp

Barcelona Biwpa Camp./ Foto: Eduard Omedes

Luckily for me, my Water Polo adventures were not over yet. The day my flight landed in New Jersey I had practice for my club in Princeton. We were preparing for Junior Olympics which were scheduled in California in early August. Our training intensity increased but I felt very confident in my abilities since I had just come from BIWPA. I was in very good swimming shape when I came back, and I felt ready for JO’s. When it came time to play the first game in California I stretched a lot and used the resistance band I got at the camp. I stretched using the techniques that ……… taught us at the camp and I’ve been doing that for every game I play. When it came to actually playing in the water, since I learned drives that were effective and quick, I had way more opportunities to shoot and attack. On one of the days there I found out that my friend Lucia was playing. I hadn’t seen her since the camp, but we chose a meeting place and got to see each other again. I realized how much I missed we and everyone else from the camp, but I don’t worry too much because I’m hoping to go back next year.

 

Our sport is experiencing a unique time for women.  The rise of women is notorious in recent years and the number of participants has grown exponentially. For that reason BIWPA, this summer wants to give more prominence to all those women that strive daily to improve their technique. From July 19th-25th, in the second week of water polo camps of CAR San Cugat will we count on Nani Guiu coach of CN Sabadell and three time European Champion, in addition to BIWPA coach and director of camps Yuri Colet.

But it doesn’t stop there. Also, we will count on the presence of several top-level players who have participated or are actively involved in the success of the Spanish water polo. So, every day, there will be a renowned player on the premises of CAR with BIWPA. Here are the women who will bring their expertise to the CAR Summer Camp:

 Ona Meseguer:

ona

Barcelona, 1988. She has been instrumental on the Spanish national team that has garnered much success lately. Gold in the 2014 European Championship of Budapest, gold in the 2013 World Championship of Barcelona and silver in the 2012 London Olympic Games. She is one of the most effective lefties in Spain who has experienced the best moments of an unforgettable generation. She is also is an essential pillar in her club Mataró and in her former club CE Mediterrani won the league title.

 Clara Gibson:

Ciara Gibson-Byrne

(Barcelona, 1992) Although from British parents, since she was little she has lived in Catalunya, where she has played in Mataró. She is a key player for the United Kingdom national team where she is the scorer. She was in the London Olympic Games, the 2012 European Championship and the 2013 World Championship where, it had been 15 years since the United Kingdom had classified.

 Anna Pardo:

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Barcelona, 1983. What to say about Anna, our last BIWPA interview. A player whose sports career is an adventure divided between U.S., Hungary and Spain.  She has an NCAA ring, 2nd place in the Hungarian League on two occasions, one Spanish League title and she was part of the first generation of Spanish women’s water polo that received the “passport” for the ADO grants. A prestigious player who has played in two continents.

 Anni Espar:

anniespar

Barcelona, 1993. What to say about the best player of the 2012 LEN. She has played in the United States where she triumphed and on her return to Spain she continues to reap success with her club CN Sabadell, three-time European Champion, among other national titles where the CNS sweeps. With Spain she has been the 2014 European Champion, 2013 World Champion, and won silver in the London Olympic Games. All a living legend despite her young age.

 Ana Copado:

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Terrasa, 1983. One of the best goalkeepers. Silver at the 2012 London Olympic Games. A long sporting career has made her a benchmark for many girls. An excellent person that when it was time to jump in the water she gave her best and when she wasn’t, she encouraged the most.

 Marta Bach:

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Mataró, 1993. Champion of the Trieste Pre-Olympic tournament (2012), 5ª in the European Championship in Eindhoven (2012), 11ª Shanghai World Championship (2011), 4ª in the Superfinal of the world league (2011) and champion of the Trieste Junior World Championship (2011). Silver in London 2012, Gold Barcelona 2013 and Budapest 2014. An essential player when she is called for the national team and a key piece of her club CN Mataró

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