We visited the Yokohama International Pool for the open training session held by the British athletes (Team GB) who participated in the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships, held in Gwangju, South Korea from July 12th to 28th, 2019. We also joined them at their send-off ceremony where local students had the chance to interact with them on the last day of their training camp.
Please enjoy our reports!
[Team GB Preparation Camp on the 13th of July: Open Training Session]
We, Junior reporters observed their training by the pool. Many junior high school students in the neighborhood including athletes from local school swimming clubs were also there for the open session and enthusiastic to learn from professionals like them.
The manager at YIP explained to us that they adjusted the pool condition as to the international level competitions wherein water temperature was as low as 27℃, and pool depth was deeper than usual. In this preparation camp, the athletes had 2-hour trainings in the morning and afternoon, for nine consecutive days.
We had the time to observe the training from the audience seats. Trainings included swimming 1500M back-to-back, freestyle with one arm up, and flutter kick practices where four athletes got in sync.
They were mainly swimming at a slow pace, but once the coach timed a race, it seemed like the athletes doubled their paces than usual. When they had the time, they waved their hands at us making us very happy.
After the training, some athletes and staff took the time to answer some of our questions. Junior reporters asked questions in English they worked hard to prepare. The interpreter translated the athletes’ answer for us, and the athletes gave compliments on our English, and said “You speak good English.”
Q: What do you think about the pool at Yokohama International Pool?
A: Thanks to all the excellent staff of the facility, the pool condition was very nice and perfect for swimming.
Q: How much do you swim a day?
A: On daily trainings, I swim for about 12-14km a day.
Q: What made you start swimming?
A: When I was 12, a certain swimming athlete inspired me.
Q: What is the interesting thing part of swimming?
A: I have a lot of chances to travel around the world for competitions. It is nice and fun to see the world.
Q: How do you move on when you fall into a slump?
A: I review my swimming to find out what is bad and restart from the beginning.
Q: What do you eat before a competition?
A: It is different for each athlete. I try to have lots of vegetables and protein.
Reported by: Naoki Kikuchi, Sara Kobayashi, Yuri Mori, Hitoha
Shimizu, Mao Shimizu, Aika Ishijima, Ayako Adachi, Ami Hasegawa, Kiyori Tanaka and Shota Suzuki
[Send-off ceremony on 16th July]
The ceremony began with the song, “Believe,” sung by the YIP Choir, which is also used for their practice. The athletes and staff were welcomed afterwards. The song was chosen to let the athletes know that they are being believed of the results of their hard work and that they can yield their best performance. After everybody was seated, students from Kitayamata Elementary School handed message cards written for each athlete. The cards were decorated with dried flowers from Yokohama which were prepared by students from Shikinomori Elementary School. Messages for the team were then written by students of Kitayamata Elementary School. The giving of message cards was then followed by the recorder performance, “The Promise of the World,” by Higashiyamata Elementary School. They chose this song to convey the message of achieving world peace through sports. Lastly, the athletes gave words of gratitude and presented a framed message board. The ceremony ended with a group photo. The children made a runway where they sent the team off with high fives. Their hands were as big as our faces, and we were also surprised at how tall they were.
Reported by: Yuina Tsukioka, Sara Kobayashi, Risa Sogo, Ami Hasegawa, Kokoro Tanaka, Asumi Noguchi and Kokono Hirota.
[Junior reporters’ impression]
I was impressed that the athletes showed no sign of tiredness even though they swam long distances. I thought to myself, “These guys are really professional athletes.” The team looked happy when they received farewell gifts from students at the ceremony. I hope that they show results of their hard work at the World Championships.
Ami Hasegawa, 6th grader
We welcomed the team with a song at the send-off ceremony. All athletes were tall that the folding chairs prepared for them appeared smaller than actual. I wondered if the taller the athletes were, the faster they could touch the goal panels. I want to support the British athletes, as well as the Japanese athletes. I wish they keep trying and keep doing their best.
Yuina Tsukioka, 5th grader
It was impressive that the athletes showed me a gentle smile when they passed through the runway made by the students, even though they were tired from the training that lasted until just before the ceremony. I really wish them the best in World Championships.
Asumi Noguchi, 5th grader
They showed us their fine play as a team. The best moment that showed their bond as a team was during their dive into the pool. If a diver makes a mistake, the athlete who supports the training would get injured. After seeing that, I thought, “They trust each other.” I, again, realized how important it is to support one another during trainings.
Ayako Adachi, 6th grader
At the end of the send-off ceremony, British athletes passed by and I shouted, “GO GB!” from behind. Then, they replied, “Oh, Thank You!” It was a happy moment.
Risa Sogo, 6th grader
I think it was a really good experience to participate in a program where I could interact with British athletes. I found the joy to communicate with people beyond language barriers, and it gained my interest for Britain. I would like to make more opportunities to learn about Britain through the World Championships and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Kiyori Tanaka, 6th grader
At this opportunity, I was very impressed by the British team. As I observe their training, it was evident that they have been swimming for a very long time, yet they were so nice to wave at us and answer our questions kindly. They were also friendly to give small children athletes’ card and a high five. It was a great opportunity to support the British team’s training with a GO GB flag in hand. At the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics next year, I want to support the British team and contribute to the team.
Naoki Kikuchi, 6th grader