WITH 10 weeks to go until the start of the Olympic Games, Chester’s Fiona McCann is growing increasingly confident Great Britain can make a splash in London.
The 25-year-old from Great Boughton has been a member of the GB team for seven years but it is only now that she believes they are ready to challenge the world’s best.
McCann and her team-mates enhanced their growing reputations with a series of improved performances in last week’s world League tournament in Greece.
Although they lost all six matches, their narrow one-goal defeats to reigning Olympic champions Holland and reigning World champions Greece proved they will be no pushovers once the Games get under way on July 27.
McCann, whose career started at the City Baths with City of Chester Swimming Club, said: “Even as recently as a year ago we were losing those type of games by seven or eight goals so we have made a massive step.
“We came out after every one of those games annoyed with ourselves because we thought we could have won. But it was great for the team to know we were so close to the top teams.
“There was a game three years ago when we lost 22-1 to Hungary but now we are on an even pecking with them. We go into every game wanting to win whereas we used to go into some games trying to keep the score down. I’ve never had this before at this level – it’s great.”
London 2012 will be the first time Great Britain’s water polo teams will have competed at an Olympics in 56 years after they received automatic qualification.
McCann said: “It’s great that we are going, as we have been lucky enough to be given host nation status, but it’s an even better feeling to know that we would have had a chance of qualifying anyway given the improvements we’ve made.”
The women’s GB team already know what it is like to take to the pool in the Olympic Park.
They performed in front of 3,000 fans at the Visa International which took place at the London venue earlier this month.
McCann, who scored against Australia and Hungary at the event, said: “I’ve never experienced anything like it. Last year we went to China for the World University Games and that was in front of 2,000-3,000 but the crowd were Chinese so they were against us, especially when we played China.
“We had it again in Holland at the European Championships earlier this year but London was different as we had most of the support for us. The stadium is huge and the noise echoes everywhere. It was fantastic.”
Manchester-based McCann will find out if she has made the Olympic squad on June 25.
The former Christleton High School student is hopeful given the form she has been showing for GB in both defence and on the wing.
McCann, who plays her club water polo for City of Liverpool, said: “I feel like I’m doing well. I’m feeling strong and hopefully I can keep it going until the team gets picked.”