Rio 2016: St Albans Olympian's former pupils wish her good luck at the Games
PUBLISHED: 12:09 01 August 2016 | UPDATED: 12:09 01 August 2016
They may not be poolside at Rio 2016, but that will not stop a group of youngsters in St Albans from taking a keen interest in their own Olympic star, Olivia Federici, when the Games begin next Friday (5).
The aquatic attributes of the synchronised swimmer have fired the imagination of pupils at Maple Primary School, Hall Place Gardens, where the London 2012 competitor was a teaching assistant until recently.
Marie Herbert, PE coordinator and Year 4 teacher, who had Olivia working alongside her before her inclusion in Team GB was announced in June, said that the then retired Olympian was “brilliant with children, and had an excellent rapport with them.
“She was very much a problem-solver in the classroom. When we found out she was going to Rio, we talked about tracking her training and competing before the Games on a map. So we put up a map of the world, which helps them with their geography. Olivia has been keeping in touch as much as possible, and we have prepared a good luck book with pictures themed around the Olympics for her.”
Marie said that a special treat for the children came in the form of Olivia and her synchronised swimming duet partner Katie Clark, when both recently took a break from training to teach them a routine in a local school pool.
She added: “That is now the children’s claim to fame, and they enjoyed being taught by them. I was amazed they did that, as it’s not an opportunity that comes along every day.
“The children are so excited about seeing Olivia compete at the Olympics. They are a very sporty class. At the start of the year she brought in her Commonwealth Games silver medal, and taught them about what was possible in sport; she was an inspiration to them.”
Marie said pupils were encouraged to be active: “We have a big push for sports at Maple.”
Olivia, 26, and Katie, 22, recently recorded a free routine personal best to finish sixth at the 2016 America Open in California. Katie tweeted afterwards that she awoke the morning after competition “finding dried gelatine” still in her hair.
The Rio 2016 synchronised swimming schedule shows there are 24 duets, competing at the Maria Lenk Aquatic Centre, towards the end of the Games.
The duets will compete in free routine preliminary and technical routines, with the best 12 to compete in the final session. Marks from 0-10 - 10 being perfect - are given for a range of aspects including choreography, difficulty and music interpretation.