Plymouth's Rachel Ward named in GB water polo squad
A RISING star on the Plymouth water polo scene has scored her biggest goal yet after being selected for the Great Britain 17 and under squad.
Rachel Ward, 16 from Mannamead, who plays for Devonport Royal Water Polo club, joined the national talent development programme earlier this year.
She has now won through trials against 50 girls to be named one of 20 chosen for the GB squad.
Ward will attend intensive training weekends in Cardiff each month to build up her skills, in the hope of being selected for the team of 13 who will represent Great Britain in the European Championships in Istanbul next year.
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Ward, an A-level student at Devonport High School, said: "I'm very happy that I was selected. When I go to train with the team it's very intensive as we only have eight more camps before the Europeans.
"When I train at home I have to do over 16 hours of training a week to keep my fitness to the required level to stay in the squad.
"When I train in Cardiff we do nine hours in the pool over the weekend, working on all the elements the previous squad were weak at like leg strength and man-ups (when a player is excluded giving the opposing team the advantage)."
The GB squad announcement follows the national water polo training camp where Ward was given the chance to play a match against four British athletes who were part of the Olympic squad.
"It was an amazing experience. I'd love to do it again," said Rachel.
Ward's coach Roger Bossom said: "Although the squad is currently 20-strong and still to be reduced, I'm confident Rachel will make the cut for the European Championships.
"She's done fantastically to get this far."
Water polo is a family affair for the Wards. Rachel's mum Denise also plays, as does her younger sister Beth, 14, and brother Liam, 11.
Ward is not the only star in the making at Devonport Water Polo.
Sister Beth has been selected alongside fellow player Bethany Hughes, 15, to join the national water polo development programme and will benefit from specialist training sessions in Cardiff.