Sportsister meets Ros Griffiths
This week the best women’s water polo teams in Europe are competing in Manchester at the LEN Women’s European Nations Trophy. Sportsister spoke to Great Britain’s captain Ros Griffiths.
Tell me a little about water polo?
It’s quite an aggressive, fast paced game. We’ve got a team of 13 girls, seven of which play in a match. A goalkeeper is the only person who can catch the ball with two hands; the rest of the team can only use one.
You can’t touch the bottom or the sides of the pool. There’s a lot of contact. People often compare it to rugby in the water, or sometimes even handball, because the movement is quite similar.
How did you start playing water polo?
I was 12 or 13, I started off swimming for a club in Shropshire – most of the girls start off in swimming clubs and have a strong swim base. It’s obviously what you need because we’re swimming up and down all the time.
In a match you can cover up to 5km travelling around the pool. After a while I found swimming a little solitary, and I started water polo because it’s a lot more fun.
What do you love most about your sport?
I love training and being in top physical condition. Also I love representing my country, singing the national anthem – it’s a real buzz.
What do you feel your greatest achievement is so far?
At the moment I’m the captain of the team and I’m really proud to be able to say I do that.
What are the key skills to be a good water polo player?
Swimming skills are the obvious one, even if you’re not the fastest swimmer, if you have quick reactions, good at changing direction etc.
You have to be really aware, there’s lots going on in the water, so you have to stay alert.
You have to have really strong legs; we do a lot of work on our legs because we have to touch the bottom of the pool, and you’re getting pushed by other players and you have to stay as high out of the water as you can. You have to be a good shot, so we do a lot of ball work in the pool, day in day out. You get bashed about a lot too, so you can’t be scared of contact. And of course stamina.
Tell us about your day to day training regime
We’re in the pool between 6am-8am in the morning, and another two hours in the evening as well. We do swimming in the morning mainly, and a little bit of ball work.
In the evening it’s more like a training game, when we’re a bit more awake! And then four days a week we do gym sessions, two days we do free weights, squats and core. And then the other two days are specific shooting exercises like throwing medicine balls, and arm strengthening. Then we have the weekends to ourselves unless we’re on camp. In the lead up to this competition we’ve been training over the weekends as well though.
When we have time off water polo I like to play tennis, anything that gets me outside. I like cycling around a lot. I don’t get much time off though, so when I do I like to spend the time sleeping!
How do you manage juggling work with your training?
I work as a college supervisor, and I also teach classes in modern languages (French and Spanish). The school I work at are involved in polo, that’s part of the reason why they employed me, so I could help them with their water polo team. I also coach the youngsters at the Grammar School (Manchester). The under 14′s team have just in fact won the Nationals. It’s pretty tough juggling my two careers, but the school have been really flexible, I guess I’ve been really lucky with that.
In the European Nations trophy which countries do you consider hardest competition?
We’re not too apprehensive about it apart from Belarus who we’re playing in our first match. Last time I played them was four years ago, and it was really close. We haven’t played them since. They could have big changes in their team since then.
We’re going to go in and test the water with them and just see how things stand. There a bit of a mystery to us at the moment.
If we go through to the next round, we’ll meet the Czech Republic; they’re probably the biggest threat. Portugal is also in our first draw and we have beaten them quite comfortably in the past, although they were missing a couple of players then, but it will be interesting to see what they’re like when they come out at full strength. Slovakia we beat them in our last meeting.
What sort of form are the team in?
We’re good, we’ve got no injuries and we’ve been all training together day in day out in Manchester for the past few months. Preparations have gone really well so it just boils down to how we play on the day now.
What plans do you have for your future in water polo?
I have the Olympics in mind, and the girls and I are all very excited by the idea of competing in 2012. I know that’s my ultimate goal; being in the team and being a key player for 2012.
Any final thoughts for Sportsister readers?
The girls have been training so, so hard and I hope that comes across, it’s a huge team effort. There are 13 of us playing in the tournament, but there’s 20 of us based in Manchester training for the Juniors as well at the end of the summer, so we’ll be doing the seniors and then straight into the juniors, so it’s really a mammoth summer for British water polo!
Vanessa Kersey, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine
More interviews on Sportsister: