If you haven’t yet heard of Evie Walker, chances are you soon will. The 16-year-old synchronised swimming talent has been selected as a ‘Priority Athlete’, giving her automatic qualification to be part of GB’s Junior Squad for events in 2022.
Like teenagers up and down the country, Evie spent much of 2021 taking on the challenge of home schooling, studying for her GCSEs which she sat successfully in the summer.
Unlike most, she also faced keeping up with her rigorous training regime without access to one crucial element. A pool. Instead, Evie replaced water work-outs with a new routine of virtual exercise classes, breathing classes, running and home gym sessions.
The dedication of Stockport Metro Swimming Club’s rising star paid off. When lockdown lifted and training resumed, Evie qualified for a competition place on GB’s Squad to attend the Junior European Championships in Malta as a reserve.
3 days before the team was due to travel, she was called off the bench to compete in the technical team event. The quality of her performance meant that on her return from the competition, Evie was named a ‘Priority Athlete’ with a potential to also compete for GB as part of the junior duet next year.
Evie, who trains with the rest of Stockport Metro Swimming Club at Life Leisure’s Grand Central in central Stockport, said: “It’s been such a huge year for me, full of ups and downs. Lockdown made it impossible to continue pool training, so it was a big challenge to keep up my fitness and maintain technique. I also had the pressure of sitting my GCSEs. To then have the chance to compete in a major international event, and to know I will be part of next year’s GB Junior Squad without having to participate in further trial events, is amazing!”
Evie is now back training at Grand Central pool at least 5 times a week, while also studying full time for A Levels in Maths, Physics and Economics.
Stockport Metro’s Synchro Head Coach, Sara Dixon, is hugely impressed by Evie’s commitment. She commented: “This has been a tough year for everyone so stories like Evie’s really make you smile.
“It’s great to see such talent and dedication rewarded. It’s been amazing to be part of Evie’s progression and success in securing her GB place. I have no doubt that she is on track for competing at the highest level. She certainly has the drive to do it.”
Evie has the aspiration too. Inspired by Team GB’s Senior Squad Duet that competed this year in Tokyo, and by many other athletes attending the Covid-delayed Olympic Games, the teenager has one goal in her sights.
Evie said: “Competing at an Olympic Games is definitely my dream. I know it will be hard work – I’d have to make the Senior Squad and then we’d need to qualify against really strong competition across Europe to take part – but I’d love to swim at the Paris 2024 Olympics.”
Based on progress this year, it seems this young Stockport star may well make that dream a reality.
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