Rio 2016 Olympics: ‘Retired’ St Albans Olympian qualifies with impressive display

St Albans Olympian Olivia Federici, left, alongside her duet partner Katie Clark,

St Albans Olympian Olivia Federici, left, alongside her duet partner Katie Clark, - Credit: Photo supplied

She’s the comeback queen! London 2012 Olympian Olivia Federici is celebrating a successful return to synchronised swimming, after retiring from the sport three years ago.

Olivia, 26, of St Albans, alongside her duet partner Katie Clark, put on an impressive - and expressive - display to take first place in the Duet Free second round at the Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament, as they claimed a spot for Team GB in Rio this summer.

After their success in the pool in the test event held in Rio on Saturday, March 6, Olivia said she was “absolutely buzzing”.

And the swimming star made sure she thanked a special group of children back home in St Albans, who created a series of colourful cards wishing her luck for the swim.

Olivia told the Herts Advertiser: “I retired in 2013 after the world championships, because I have been doing this full time since I was 16, and I wanted to do something different.”

A change in career saw her taking on a role as teaching assistant at Maple Primary School, which she “absolutely loved.”

However, when she heard about trials for the British synchronised swimming duet squad ahead of Rio 2016, Olivia thought ‘why not?’

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But, she admitted, after a two-year break, “it was very tough getting back into it as you have to be ridiculously fit.

“It was the challenge of trying to get better, every day, and pushing yourself to the max – I had missed it!

“The trials were held at the end of October 2015, and I was selected to be part of the duet squad with three other girls, and we have been busy competing since then.

“I have been working so hard, but am really enjoying it, and went on to Rio to qualify for quota space for Great Britain. Trying to qualify for Team GB was a real challenge [but] I thought, ‘let’s just go for it’.”

Olivia said she was determined to “keep on improving” and is putting in between six to eight hours of training a day in the pool.

She added: “Katie and I both retired in 2013, and we have both come back again as the Games are such a special event, and the opportunity to go to Rio 2016 is really exciting.

“The qualifying event at Rio was amazing, and the competition was held at the pool where the Olympics will be held. Everyone there was so friendly and welcoming.”

Olivia, who returned home last Monday (7) said that she appreciated the colourful good luck messages drawn by her Maple school pupils, which she described as “super inspiring”.

According to British Swimming, Katie and Olivia put on an “impressive display” to take first place in the duet free second round at the Olympic Games Qualification Tournament.

Their snakes themed routine saw them secure an overall total of 157.2544 to achieve second place overall.

The London 2012 Olympians “showed excellent height, power and speed throughout the routine”.

Head Coach Katie Dawkins praised the pair, who had ‘trained solidly’, adding: “Katie and Olive have worked tirelessly and the changes were noticeable in every session. Their hard work has really been rewarded here.”

The Olympic test event took place at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre, to see the world’s best aiming to qualify for their spot at the Games.

• Olivia, with then duet partner Jenna Randall, made her big break in the sport at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, finishing fourth. They won silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Olivia competed at her first Olympic Games at Beijing in 2008.