Cricket, Swimming and Tennis: Dedication and Perspiration

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The philosophy that guides sport at Bede's has two distinct halves.

The first is that the school endeavours to ensure that all students have the chance to take part in sport and represent the school.

The second is the range of opportunities to excel offered to students who show real potential in their chosen sport.

Bede's specialist staff in Cricket, Swimming and Tennis have nurtured a vast array of sporting talent, whether they wish to become professionals later in life or just want to be better players.

Polly McCarthy, Nick Carter and Roison Dixon are three Bede's Prep School pupils who met recently to share their thoughts about their sporting experiences at the school.

"We all joined the Prep School in the Nursery or Pre-Prep," says Polly, proudly. "And now, I train between five and seven hours a week in group sessions, or in individual lessons with Mrs Nash or Mr Morriss, our Strength and Conditioning coach."

"All the teachers are focused on improving my Tennis game."

Led by Jane Nash, Head of Tennis at Bede's Prep School as well as Senior Performance and Development Coach, Bede's Tennis Academy benefits not only from the indoor and local tennis courts but also from the high caliber of the coaches.

Jane is an internationally ranked player, and Ben Nash and Sharna McNally, both DCA Level 2 qualified, are county players.

Roisin, whose specialism is swimming, tells a similar story in terms of her training.

"I train twice a week for about an hour and a half per session within school, and also sometimes train oustide of school for swimming."

"We're training really hard at the moment in preparation for the IAPS Swimming Championships and are hoping to be as successful as last year. Four of us were in the finals, are are ranked in the top sixteen swimmers in the country in our age groups and strokes."

In terms of the school's swimming provision, the programme is undergoing massive development, with a huge surge in popularity for both the Junior activity, which is open to all abilities, and the Senior Swim, where the school offers lane swimming to improve stamina.

Other swimming sessions are run for water polo and lifesaving, but the Swimming Academy offers six squad sessions a week and currently trains 85 children.

Nick, who is an all-round sportsman, adds, "I do lots of training for both football and cricket. I have a sports session with with Mr Van Noort and Mr Morriss nearly every day, including at the weekends. In different sessions we focus on various aspects."

The Cricket Academy, which stages sessions for potential 1st XI cricketers on a Monday evening, is open to Year 7 and 8 children, and is focused on technical and tactical elements in preparation for the forthcoming season. 

The Year 3 and 4 session meanwhile is focused on introducing the children to the basics of cricket, including fun elements to encourage pupils to want to play cricket long term and develop their skills at Academy sessions in the future.

Like the rest of Bede's Prep sports provision, there is also an Open Cricket activity, aimed at 2 groups run side by side. The first group consists of potential players and focusses on the more technical aspects of the game. The second group is more generic, introductory and fun based.

"In the Academies with Mr Van Noort," he continues, "it's very individual and personal, as with the training with Mr Morriss. I like the fact that in the Academies it's intense, while in Games we focus on everyone in the group and everyone is included and given a chance."

Polly nods in agreement.

"It is really fun and a good social environment. I like that I get to play with friends of all abilities. But the Strength and Conditioning sessions are exceptional from Mr Morriss. It's fun, but we work really hard. It's beneficial for all our sports, although he sets up the training to be specific to each one of us."

When asked about their sporting achievements, all three become somewhat coy.

"Coming eighth in the national IAPS swimming competion in the backstroke last year was amazing," says Roisin. "Ms Jebb's training sessions, which are exhausting, obviously paid off! But being awarded my 5m swim badge at Bede's when I was only 4 years old was... I don't know. I was so proud then!"

"I remember getting colours from Mrs Nash in Year 3 for Tennis," chimes in Polly, smiling.

"Oh yeah," adds Nick. "In Year 3 I played Under-Eights football and got given my colours and the Golden Boot award from Mr Bevington! That was amazing. But my proudest moments so far are either playing in the 1st team at the IAPS finals at Repton last year, or winning the Sussex Cricket cup last year."

Polly is clear however that although winning is fun, it's not the most important thing.

"The fact that the training helped me reach the semi-final of the IAPS Tennis tournament last year, and the all the Bede's support, was amazing. But the thing I like most is the fact that in Games everyone has opportunity to do something and teachers always give everyone a chance."

Nick, who is in clear agreement, continues along the same theme.

"The specialist coaches in the Academies are really passionate and knowledgable about their sports. They demand that you always give your best. They are strict, but the sessions are very enjoyable and you always feel that you are learning. They're different to Games or just training, and that's a really good thing."

"The coaches give you excellent technical advice and tell you how to improve," says Roisin.

"The sessions are sometimes very exhausting, especially swimming, but I like the challenge."

"The way the sessions are organised and delivered means that we can achieve our best."