All posts tagged waterpolo femenino

The Club Natació Barcelona celebrates 108 years of its history. It has been a pioneering club and, until recent years, one of the bastions of Spanish and international water polo.

It was Bernard Picornell who introduced water polo in the CNB and in Spain at the beginning of XXth century. The first match played was in 1908 and since then this sport has always been being present on the shores of the Mediterranean.

In the middle of the twenties, the CNB opened the swimming pool of the Escullera (Breakwaters), a symbol of the water polo in Spain and place where the main players of the club originated.

Up to a few years ago, the CNB was a club that dominated this sport in Spain with infinity of national titles that moved it up to the highest level. The clearest example of that time of splendor [glory] is the ancient swimming pool of the club that today is closed to the public, but those who could live great moments in this swimming pool will always remember the great episodes that took place there.

CNB, 1944. / Waterpolo Legends

CNB, 1944. / Waterpolo Legends

The achieved titles and championships [that were won] are collected in the showcase of the CNB, attesting to how big this club has been and where players of big international prestige have served, like Manel Estiarte, who is probably the most famous for being an outstanding player. To beginning of the eighties, it managed to win the continental title beating the team of Spandau 04. Also, in the middle of the nineties they had obtained a LEN Cup, a title that they repeated almost ten years later.

It was perhaps the last big title that they achieved. After this, the economic problems appeared continuously, thus the club is losing competitiveness but keeps hope and enthusiasm as a flag.

So, this year they celebrate 108 years, and from BIWPA we want to wish the club many years more of long life since it is a club that has always met fondly our entity. There our campus participants have always had a place to keep on growing like sportsmen and persons and its categories teams have always proved to be ready – as those of other clubs – to collaborate with the foreign teams that come to us.

Last week, October 18th-24th, the Dutch ZV de Zaan team arrived in Barcelona. Two senior teams, one male and one female with nearly forty water polo players between them. Also, a technical staff of 7 coaches joined these teams as well.
This expedition is part of the contract that the Netherlands has with BIWPA and there has been much progress with Dutch water polo. Zan de Zaan joined BIWPA in Barcelona last year where they trained in the morning and participated in matches in the afternoon. The men competed against Catalunya, Molins, Horta, and Sant Felui; while the women competed against Horta, Sant Andreu, Mataro, and Catalonia.
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The results have been very positive for the Dutch team and because of their hard work, they will hopefully continue to grow and be successful.
Finally, thank you to all of the clubs who have participated in the matches. Your support is vital for all of the teams who come to Barcelona and see that they can continue to work hard and improve their skills.
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…
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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.

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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Thanks to our Team Training Camp we have been able to have the community pools of Monjuic for two foreign teams during this week. On one hand, [we have] the young men of CNAC (Portugal), and on the other the female cadet of Melville (Australia). Both teams have trained throughout the week in double sessions, with the invaluable help of a Catalan team to intensify the practices, in this case the CN Rubí.

A developing sport

This is how Filipe Oliveira (Coímbra coach) and his players Henrique Silva and Tiago Dinis (International U17) define the water polo in Portugal. “The situation isn’t good. There isn’t very much culture, the country only thinks about soccer and doesn’t offer support to the other sports. There is little outreach so it is costly to try to gain momentum to get on the level of other countries like Spain for example”, assured Oliveira. In the opinion of the three, the Portuguese players need to improve their fitness and strength, in addition to learn[ing] the best tactical basis to reach the elite. Without going any further a player who reaches the level of the Spanish, French or Italians is seen as a rare breed.

If we stop the focus in practice, Tiago Dinis tells us that the main differences are the “in Spain they train with much more intensity, in addition to employing more hours of training, especially outside of the pool. They focus on developing the tactical/technical part and the strength of the players. The workouts here are more specific, while Portugal we touch base on swimming and passing.”  Additionally, the Portuguese coaches generally have difficulty finding solutions to the problems of their equipment due to a lack of proper training.

Henrique Silva believes that the fact of playing in CN Rubí is very positive for the Coímbra as it helps them improve their competitiveness: “in Portugal we are one of the best teams, but if we played in Barcelona’s league we would be competing for last place. The teams in Barcelona are more physical, taller and have better ball control than us.” Something that his teammate agrees with, adding that they are also “more intelligent, their movements are automatic because they train more, [they are] very organized and [there is a] great understanding between them. They don’t need to be quicker than us because they’re smarter”, said Dinis.

Finally, the assessment of the role of BIWPA in this camp is extremely positive in all aspects. For the coach, Filipe Oliveira, he noted that it enables “see[ing] another way of life, meet[ing] people at different levels and experience, to try to be the best in the world. Our goal should be to reach the level of Spain”.

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Improve from the same idea

Quite different is the case of Melville, a team from a small Australian town. We talked to three members of the female cadet: the coach Chloe Nella and players Brooke Pensini and Sarah Leavy. For the coach the water polo in is going through a good time, practicing a style that is “more physical, stronger, and quicker. Overall we train during the same hours as in Barcelona, even though in Australia there is only on pool for male and female teams, so is it difficult to do as much as we would like”, confesses Nella.

Their team chose as part of their program video sessions for morning workouts where the players can see from under water cameras their mistakes that they later correct in the pool with BIWPA coach Xavi Belaguer. For Sarah Leavy it’s an essential help to improve “different perspectives, such as the placement and use of the legs”.

In regards to the general practices, they don’t differ much from what they do in Australia, because as Brooke Pensini tells us they have “similar exercises and objectives. In Barcelona it is true that they are harder, you need to act and think quickly in order to take advantage of situations.” Thanks in part to the help of CN Rubí who has been a worthy support for the Australian cadets. The three members of Melville agree in pointing out that this is a physical and very competitive team that is also very organized.

In closing, there are always words of gratitude for the BIWPA experience, according to Chloe Nella “it has made us faster, stronger and more physical. The girls have learned to grab the opponents, hold the defenders and take advantage of it. Additionally, the defense has learned to stop the drive of their mark”

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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:

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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:

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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

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.

Plata en Málaga 2008

Plata en Málaga 2008

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? 

Two things:

– 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.

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