A student at Leeds Trinity University will lead the England Lifesaving Team at the Commonwealth Lifesaving Championship in South Africa this weekend.
20-year-old Laura Purcell, from Leeds, has been involved with lifesaving for seven years, as a participant and volunteer at Leeds Phoenix Life Saving Club. She trained to be a coach and in May 2017, was appointed England Coach by the Royal Life Saving Society, alongside Team Manager Matt Jagger.
Laura said: "Being an England coach is such an amazing, if not slightly scary, feeling, but it's such a great opportunity and I'm so excited. My role involves selecting the teams, deciding who swims in which event, organising training camps, designing and securing funding for new team kit, supporting the trip and being in charge of the coaching in preparation for the competition itself."
Initially developed for lifeguards but has since grown into an international competitive swimming discipline, competitive lifesaving combines first aid skills with speed swimming. The sport tests fitness, rescue and first aid skills, as well as initiative and the ability to adapt and prioritise in different situations.
On Friday 11 and Saturday 12 August, the four teams from England (all with four competitors per team) will compete against national and development teams from all Commonwealth nations at the King's Park Swimming Complex in Durban, South Africa. They will compete in six different team and individual events, and a team lifesaving challenge which includes a simulated emergency response event, resuscitation test and medley swim.
Laura added: "I feel honoured to be taking some of the best Lifesaving athletes from across the country to represent England, and I'm confident we'll have a really successful championships. We have selected some excellent swimmers from across England, and we're looking forward to the competition and hopefully bringing home some medals."
Another Leeds Trinity University student Lucy Howes joins the Female National Team alongside Rachel Carroll, Beth Little and Jess Parker, with Emelye Sanders, Beth Chandler, Emily Field and Vicky Threlfall on the Female Development Team. The Male National Team includes Richard Jagger, Sam Lawman, Andrew Morley and Ben Taylor-Walsh, with James Blaby, Sam Kirkland, Adam Threlfall and Martin Schofield on the Male Development Team. Elliot Key and Cadie Chandler have been named as squad reserves.
The England Lifesaving Team train five or six evenings per week at each swimmers' local lifesaving club, with all selected competitors from Leeds training at Leeds Phoenix Lifesaving Club on Thursday evenings at the John Charles Centre for Sport.
The teams will arrive in South Africa on Wednesday 9 August ahead of managers meetings on Thursday and day one of the competition on Friday.