- High Performance Center of Sant Cugat CAR
- Municipal pools of Montjuic
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.
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 StateWe 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…
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.
Xavi, I have to tell you. You’re a classic in water polo. How did you start this love affair with water polo?
Thanks for the classic comment! Well, maybe, yes … I’ve been a player, coach, technical director and president of a club. I’ve played in all divisions of state water polo and I have also trained in all the divisions; great male and female and players. Thirty-odd years of romance with water polo.
My start was somewhat atypical. After practicing some sports, including swimming, one day at the Sabadell Swim Club I ran across veterans from a water polo team working out. They lacked goalkeeper and so I jumped in, certainly fortunately, lol … and from there I went on to train with the kids my age and in a short time started playing in the junior category and the Absolute team. It was about 1983 or ’84, and water polo snagged me for life.
Like everyone, you would have started in the water. What are your memories of that period of your life?
Well, I started swimming when I was 8 or 9 years old at the Badia facilities; newly built, but after a couple of years I fractured my arm (humerus bone), and I took a year off. After a while, I opted for football and tennis, but I had already acquired a basis to play water polo. My memories are of the mythical and now defunct “Muni” of Sabadell with his balloon. Training with Jordi Molet, Llorenç Carbo and with many players who currently are still some of my best friends, such as Pere Carrasco, Marc Alcón, Antoni Nouvilas or Joan Manel Xiberta.
When did you decide to pass from the water to the bench?
The first team I coached was the absolute feminine team the Sant Feliu Swimming Club, back in ’90. When I left the Sabadell team, I ended up in A-2 (now First) in Sant Feliu. There they proposed that I combined being the goalkeeper of the team with coaching the Women’s team and I accepted the challenge. They were two seasons in which I learned a lot and I liked being a coach. And I have never looked back. But you always feel like a player. Last season I played 1st division Catalan meetings with the absolute A from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB).. against the kids who I now train!
What teams have you trained and what anecdotes could you tell us that you remember fondly?
I will recount in chronological order: Sant Feliu Swimming Club – Absolute Feminine, UAB Waterpolo – Absolute Masculine and Absolute Feminine, Sabadell Swimming Club – Absolute Masculine and Absolute Feminine and now, Poble Nou Swimming Club – Absolute Masculine and Masculine Cadet. Also, during my eight years in Sabadell I was also assistant coach with the junior teams, both masculine and feminine.
My best moments in water polo so far undoubtedly have been in the UAB Waterpolo Club. We created a club of friends with whom we came to play the First Division, playing there many seasons. I lived very intensely: as player, coach, president, managing the economy with the vice president Ermengol Llorenç … The anecdotes are endless, both in and out of the water: incredible results in relation to our structure, organized trips thinking about the after-match … and a philosophy of waterpolo that is unparalleled throughout state water polo. I should write a book!
But there is something I must tell you, that’s romantic, which is when I was coach of Sant Feliu Swim Club Feminine Team, I met a player, Olga, who I married, and she’s still is my wife. We have two children who also have become addicted to the pools. The best of water polo, haha!
Surely your great leap so far has been the Sabadell Swim Club, where you directed the absolute women’s draw …
Yes, I passed from a sensational club of friends, to accepting a professional challenge in the Club of my entire life. It was 4 years of sporting success winning 3 leagues, 2 Queen cups, reaching an F4 in the LEN Cup. We created, alongside Mateo Celma, Pere Carrasco and Toni Sánchez, all the feminine structure base of the club, and that allowed us to practically renew the entire great team we had for a very young team, which has been the basis of both Sabadell Swim Club (CNS) and the Spanish selection. They were bad times for resources and recognition of women’s water polo, but I always remember the selfless spirit and ability of work and sacrifice of that group of excellent players. Hence I took another leap at that big moment, to the Sabadell Absolute Masculine team. It was 2007.
Later you assumed the technical direction of the CNS but it did not quite jell. Why?
I collated the Technical Directorate of CNS with the post of coach of the Absolute Masculine Team for 4 years. I accepted it because it was a great dream for me. Imagine, your Club presents you the dream project. For the first time I became a full time professional. We built a project together with Pere Carrasco, who shared coaching and Technical Department duties with me, Marc Alcon as a manager responsible for the section, key managers such as Claudi Martí and a team of highly qualified coaches, basically from the Club.
The project for the masculine team was simple, but required time and patience: To provide continuity to our base-grown players to fill the absolute team with them, and for the wheel to continue rolling. In addition we would facilitate and promote their education. We wanted to create a strong Sabadell Swim Club DNA with magnificent existing resources.
Thus, we gave meaning to our water resources, our Santa Clara School and our potential in categories (in 2008 we won all the championships of Spain of ages and we were youth champions in 2008, 09 and 10). In order to achieve that we became more flexible in technical hierarchies, we created tools and resources for our players (like the team B in 1st and 2nd Division, flexitime for studies, grants, etc.), we gave them a place in our absolute Divisón de Honor (top league in Spain) (DH), we showed them the way and instilled in them the CNS DNA. We did not want to be eternally condemned to sign up players to be up there and be proud of the fruits of labor of education of all our structures (technical, managerial and social).
In the women’s project we set a roadmap to be the best team in Europe. There was a very big “niche” there and we had to take advantage of that.
On a sporting level, the results were excellent: success in all age categories, a very competitive absolute masculine team with great recruitment of young players from the Club, a women’s team that was sweeping Spain and the European champion.
Economically we optimized and rationalized resources. In 2003, 10 persons were taking in 80% of a big budget. In 2011, redistribution had largely benefitted the feminine team, athletes and the technical base.
Everything evolved according to the objectives set, but sometimes in sport decisions are not made based on an analysis of validity of a project and of professionalism and the results of work; and unfortunately all the people who were part of this exciting project had to leave it in the middle of 2011.
This summer you are back to the bench after a period in which you have remained on the sidelines…
Well yes! The disappointment was huge in 2011 and I moved away from it a bit. I needed a “cure” from water polo and serious reflection. I studied a Master of Sports Business Administration at the UB and disconnected. But gradually I turned to engage in water polo, first W. UAB, after that with BIWPA and now coaching at Poble Nou Swim Club.
In June, a good friend and old salt in water polo, Joan Colomer, called and said that Poble Nou intended to continue with the waterpolo in a new work project with the base and with an absolute amateur and that he would be there. He asked if I felt like joining in. I was thrilled, stung by the water polo bug. I had a meeting with Jordi Homs, President, and found it a very good proposal. That left me only to get the ok from my family, but as they already know me, it seemed immediately clear to them.
It has been a summer of rumors about Poble Nou. How have you lived?
Initially I distanced myself from the situation of the club, with the news coming about the possible resignation at DH and the possibility of water polo in general being seriously affected. I thought that situation was a shame for our waterpolo. When I agreed with Jordi I joined, and it was always clear that the part of base teams and all amateur would continue, no matter what happened with the professional team. The club has tried to find resources up to the last minute to follow the DH, but has not been successful.
What project awaits this Club with Xavi Balaguer in charge, and what technical team are you counting on to carry it out?
Well, the control is a matter of teamwork with Joan, and I will bring my expertise and experience to this exciting challenge in a historic club.
The club has undergone many changes of players in all categories. The situation of uncertainty that it has lived through for a time has made many athletes opt to go to other clubs, but we have registered 7 competing teams, covering all categories of waterpolo for this season. This shows that our commitment for the base is firm although we don’t have an excess of kids. The project moves to stabilize the various club teams in terms of number of players and provide reliability and quality to our training. We will become a training club of athletes and people which kids will not only not want to leave, but they will want to come to us.
We have 3 highly skilled technicians in a mixture of experience and youth: Joan Colomer who needs no introduction, with the little ones; Marc Martinez, a young coach looking forward to the experience; and myself with the older ones.
Moving on to BIWPA. You are a key pillar of this project. What is your role?
First, I’d like to say that I am very grateful to the trust Cristina, the authentic engine of BIWPA, and Yuri have placed in me from day one. I think I have a very BIWPA profile and because of my training and experience I am very cross-sectional and I can occupy and I do occupy different functions. In BIWPA I take care of the Technical Department, and that means training tasks and campus direction coach, and some tasks at the Academy. Lately I’m more oriented as manager of foreign teams in the Training Camps and as head of the large collaboration project with the Dutch Federation.
The arrival of foreign teams and the Academy make BIWPA pretty unique in the world.
The BIWPA concept is awesome. It has covered an essential gap in our sport. I have lived through the birth of the project from day one and I’ve always believed in it. In times of crisis and abuse at all levels to “second fiddle” waterpolo, an initiative arising like BIWPA is priceless. I think BIWPA complements the great work that the clubs do every day with a series of projects and high quality services such as Camp and Training Camps for teams. But I would highlight the Academy as innovative. From responsibility, professionalism and passion we offer a number of services that undoubtedly benefit our waterpolo with many synergies with federations, clubs and athletes. Other sports have had similar initiatives for years. Over time I think you will see the true importance and dimension BIWPA, here and in the world of international water polo.
Necessary question. How did you get started in this sport and what are your earliest memories in the water?
I wasn’t a very good swimmer and since I was tall, the club suggested that I try water polo… After my first day of practice I had decided I was going to play water polo… I had a great time.
Your career in Spain was mainly developed in the CE Mediterrani winning the league title in the 2002-2003 season. What do you remember from that time?
During my time with CE Mediterrani I remember being around the best players. Most were part of the Spanish selection, so each practice was a luxury because of the high level and discipline they had. There I learned to love the essence of water polo, there was no financial aid or national teams or club level… so it was putting in the hours and effort to enjoy the sport.
Simultaneously the first international successes started with the junior selection in Loule and Calgary
I remember those summers, with coach Mar Sanromà, we worked very hard, many hours training and a lot of discipline. We knew this was the only way for good results. Also it was the first time that we would with a psychologists and biomechanics. And all that effort served a purpose, the first medals came in women’s water polo categories (bronze in El Europeo in Loule and bronze in the world championship in Calgary)
You were part of the team that participated in the 2003 World Championship in Barcelona that is considered the precursor of the current generation that has achieved much success.How is it playing the World Championship at home?
Being 20 years old and one of the smallest/shortest on the team I remember it was brutal, throughout the championship I had goose bumps. I couldn’t believe that so many people looked up to us, followed us and enjoyed our games. I remember it as one of the most important moments in my career.
Thanks to that generation, the plan ADO entered with all that it entails. It seems people forget that there was women’s water polo before [now] What changes have you noticed since then?
The people who spent years in the world of women’s water polo know that without this generation, the women’s water polo world as we know it now probably wouldn’t exist. There were players who trained every day after a hard day’s work, who asked for vacation time to go to stages or tournaments, who “mortgaged” there summer so that could be “full with the selection, and all this without financial compensation… it was admirable. Thanks to that team and that first ADO, some players from the selection could be without a job, or could continue their studies. The ADO grants are essential for the players to devote sufficient time to polo for great results, otherwise it would be almost impossible.
In 2004 you went to the United States where you won an NCAA ring in your first season. How is water polo across the Atlantic?
It is hard water polo, many hours of training/practice and a lot of disciple. The workouts had a starting time but no end, hours of meetings, you had to study film of rivals before the game, etc. When your goal is to win in the NCAA [title] there is a lot of pressure. Additionally, in the case of having a “full scholarship”, the continuity depends on your academic and sports results.
Having studied in America, Has it helped you now going back into the workplace?
It helps to have a career in the US and have a high level of English. The latter is critical today in any career.
Later you return to Spain where in the 2009-2010 season you reclaimed the league championship with Mediterrani some of which have then been a very important part of the current national team…
It is the league that I remember most fondly. It was a tough year in many ways, but we know how to cope very well: we were very disciplined (we withstood whichever training they threw at us), talented players… but it was the attitude in the water and good relationship between us which made us win this league and made it memorable. I can assure you that any player that formed part of this team remembers that season specially.
And then you decided to go on a trip to the birthplace of world water polo, Hungary. There you won second place twice in the league. What are your memories of that experience?
I was coming from the U.S., where everything is based on discipline and hard work, so I was shocked to see a totally different type of water polo… One based off talent. Seeing 12-15 year old kids with a ball control that players in Spain only achieved in the last years of their careers leaves you speechless. And this is because in Hungary they start at a young age working on individual technique and ball control.
Probably, what has stayed with me of those years is having been on a team with some of the best players of Hungarian history.
Not to mention the silver you won with the selection in the 2008 European Championship in Malaga….
Unforgettable… how the fans encouraged us in that championship! Waiting for us outside the pool to sing to us, encourage us… we really enjoyed it. I remember the semifinal game that we won against Hungary, it was very exciting. And even then we lost the final, we were ecstatic to get the first medal of the women’s water polo in a major competition.
What have been your best and worst memories in this sport?
I can’t decide on just one good memory, probably I could summarize it in three:
-The games won and lost that marking a turning point in my career and my development as a player
-The times in practice and traveling with my teammates, that makes you remember everything lived with a special affection.
-And all the moments and games shared, both the selection and the club, with my sister (Cristina Pardo). I wouldn’t have enjoyed everything in the way that I did without having her by my side.
The worst memory probably is the day that I decided to stop playing water polo, I still miss it. But there always comes that time when one must make that decision and not look back, because in reality, there are many wonderful things waiting for us outside of the pool.
What advice would you give to younger [players] given your experience?
– To get anything (go to the selection, win a league or to play more minutes in club) you must work hard… there will be disappointments and failure, and these will be what help us achieve our goals, otherwise we would never get there
– Water polo is a part of life that we must take advantage of and live intensely, but it is not the only thing. Never stop studying and have other dreams and goals outside of the water.
Lets talk about BIWPA. What do you think and what can they offer to current water polo?
BIPWA is a great project, and I think the key lies in the variety of programs, being able to combine them with studies and cultural diversity. I think that to play at another level it’s essential to enrich learning different ways of understanding water polo, and this program can offer this experience to developing players.
by Xabi Gómez.
For those who are outside what happens in the old continent, the first impression of European dominance can be a bit skeptical. But there are data to counter the claims herein will do.
The United States has participated in almost all Olympic and World Cup competitions, but despite the undeniable potential of this country in aquatic matter, unable to climb to the top of the podium in the last decades. The beginnings were bright in the early twentieth century, also highlight two silvers in the eighties, but generally, have always been lagging behind the dominant countries in the men’s water polo.
Perhaps the women’s national team has been in that sense, as a special case, since in 2000 (Sydney) girls can compete in the Olympics, the American have been a sure medal for the nation. In recent years, the emergence on the international scene selections other especially in the case of Spain have put into question the hitherto intractable American.
One of the factors that most affect this result is, in my opinion, the system in which the US water polo is based, as it is the “thorn vertebra everything else” in the words of Denja Udovicic current coach of USA. “There is no country on earth with more potential than the United States,” added the Serb.
Some differences in water polo: USA vs. Europe
And the truth is it’s hard not to agree with the statements of American selection. United States has more sub-16 players anywhere in the world, but beyond competitions High School or College, nothing more.
In Europe, by contrast, the club system allows the player to ‘ascend’ rapidly to be able to play matches with the first team -if the talents- at age 16. In USA, the player would have to wait until college to excel.
The dimensions of the country are also an element against. The competitions are concentrated in two or three days and except California, where most concentrated water polo, contact with other High School, College or University is scarce.
In contrast, one of the European cities where most clubs proliferate is Barcelona. The relationship between them is very active and can play games and training quality in a small ratio of action. A win win within reach of few cities in the world.
The arrival of European and Dejan Udovicic structures of American water polo can also be read as a gesture of approach to a system in Europe, despite the ailing economy of clubs, works in sports. Brazil has also opted for a Croatian an unblemished reputation as Radko Rudic for the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
What if the American giant wakes from his dream? …?
For the first time in its history, the Spanish women’s water polo team has been proclaimed European champion after defeating the Dutch team 10-5 in the final of the European Competition in Budapest.
The current world champions, who also took silver at London 2012, have achieved their first continental title after staying with silver in the European in Malaga 2008.
The Spanish team won the final with a partial 3-3, 2-0, 2-2 and 3-0. In the first quarter, the Dutch went ahead twice, but thanks to Maica Garcia and Andrea Blas, the “warriors” responded with goals in the 2 meter buoy, position they usually occupy, forming the best pair of buoys today. In the second quarter Anni Espar, BIWPA Ambassadress, changed paths with two crossed shots, the second of numerical superiority, coming to rest with a 5-3 lead.
In the third quarter, Miki Oca‘s team reached ahead 7-4 thanks to the work of Andrea Blas in her area and a setback kick of Maica Garcia from six yards. The final quarter became an offensive and defensive recital of the warriors, who scored twice (Roser Tarrago, Maica Garcia), leaving the final 10-5 that gave the gold to Spain.
BIWPA wants to congratulate Miki Oca’s “warriors” for this new victory and Miki himself and all his staff. It is a great moment for the Spanish women’s water polo, but we know that is just the beginning, as the “warriors” make up a team that has only changed a name in three years, with an average age of just 23 years. There are still many more wins to come. Congratulations girls!
The Atlètic Barceloneta yesterday was proclaimed Europe champion for the first time in its history by defeating, for a low (6-7), the Radnicki of Serbia in the Final Six. With the victory, the “sailors” become the third Spanish team to win the Champions League after the CN Barcelona (1982) and the CN Catalunya (1995).
The success of these athletes is another example of high-level water polo that Barcelona offers to all teams and players who choose Barcelona as the place to do their Training Camps. In fact, Barcelona and the surrounding area host the largest number of water polo teams in the Honor Division, both male and female teams .
The Final Six, a competition that will also host Barcelona in 2015, took place in the pools Bernat Picornell. These facilities were opened in 1969 to house the European Swimming Championships in 1970 and has since hosted Olympic Games, World and European Championships.
The high level of these facilities and the players who have won this competition is another example of the prestige of the Spanish water polo, which has established itself over the last 25 years. The successes of the Spanish men’s team since the Olympic Games of Barcelona ’92, and the explosion of women’s water polo with the silver medal at London 2012 and gold in Barcelona 2013, demonstrate the high level of water polo in our country.
We want to congratulate Atlètic Barceloneta for the great competition that have been made, to the Martin brothers, Chus and David for the excellent work they’ve done, the MVP Albert Español and, in particular, Felipe Perrone, our campus ambassador, who did a great championship. Congratulations guys! You are already champions of Europe!