Congratulations to Heworth student Rachel Lee, who struck Gold in her very first championships as part of the England synchronised swimming squad which won the Opijeka Invitational Cup in Croatia.

Despite contending with a Year 11 exam schedule and her demanding training regime, Rachel managed to combine excellent exam results with qualification for the national team. We are extremely proud of Rachel and her achievements.

Please see the article featuring Rachel on the right, published in the Newcastle Chronicle in August 2014.

Evening Chronicle Article

RACHEL LEE has splashed out on her first gold medal – on her international debut. The Gateshead teenager was part of the England synchronised swimming squad which won the Opijeka Invitational Cup in Croatia. The team beat off the challenge of seven other European teams to claim the prestigious cup after gaining the top marks in the team routine event. It was the first time Lee – a member of Gateshead Synchronised Swimming Club – had represented her country.

She qualified after performing well at the National Age Group Championships in Gloucester in December and then coming through a trial at Crystal Palace. Proud dad Bill said: “I am so pleased for Rachel. “To win on her national debut was superb. “Rachel puts in a lot of hard work to be the best she can be in her sport. “She trains for two hours every Tuesday and Thursday nights and also for six hours at Leeds on Saturday and Sundays. “She is so dedicated and this success is a reward for all the effort she has put in. “The squad was confident it could do well but it was brilliant to be able to go out to Croatia and see them win.” Lee’s coach at Gateshead Gemma Bolt said: “I have known Rachel for four years and during that time she has always put in 100% effort. “She works hard and from an early age recognised what she wanted to do and how to do it – and then did it. “I have never met anyone with the determination she has and we are so proud of her. “She is very critical of herself, always finding fault, but this is simply because she wants to be the best she can be. She is a true asset to the club.”

Lee, 16, took up the sport aged nine – quite by chance. Her dad added: “She used to go for swimming lessons run by Gateshead Council. “One of the coaches suggested to her she had natural talent and should develop her swimming further. “She decided to try synchronised swimming and was hooked straight away.” As well as training in her home town, Lee is also part of the City of Leeds elite hub which competes at national level. She is joined there by fellow Gateshead swimmers Pru Hubbard and Chloe McLelland. Lee has been a part of the England Talent programme since December 2013. Her dad also praised his daughter’s school, Heworth Comprehensive. He added: “They have been brilliant in supporting Rachel and enabling her to fit exams around her competitions.”