CANOE POLO: JUGGLING academic commitments with representing Great Britain in canoe polo is all in a day's work for University College Chester student Kathryn Grieves, who has been selected for next month's World Games.
Having canoed since she was eight, she decided to concentrate on the more specialised sport of canoe polo at 13 and has been in the national squad ever since - but this will be the first time she has played at a major championships for the senior ladies.
A contact water sport, canoe polo is fast and highly competitive, played between two teams of up to eight, only five of whom may be on the 'pitch' at one time.
The ball - similar in size to a football - is thrown by hand or flicked with the paddle.
Opponents are tackled either through boat contact or pushing on the shoulder as teams try to score in their opponents' goal which is suspended two metres above the water.
Demanding the ball handling skills of basketball and tactical awareness of five-a-side football, a high level of technical canoeing ability is required.
Kathryn said: 'I'm really excited about competing in Duisburg in July, because although I've taken part in both the World and European Championships before, that was at Under-21 level.
'As well as the home team playing in Germany, we will face Australia, New Zealand, France and Japan.'
Currently completing an MSc in Exercise and Nutrition, her studies and the college facilities help her to prepare the strict diet and fitness regime which maintains her position as one of the game's top attackers.
Kathryn said: 'I'm vegetarian, so I have to know the right things to eat and drink. I use the college facilities to develop aerobic fitness and strength in the gym and power and speed in the swimming pool.'
Kathryn, 21, also completed her first degree at University College Chester - the only place she could find which offered the combination of Fine Art and Sports Science.
The flexibility of her current course has enabled her to pursue two personal goals - to learn more about her favourite subjects and to play as an international.
She added: 'Having the option of studying part-time over two years at University College Chester has been really useful.
'It would have been a struggle financially and to do as much training if I had been on a full-time course, which means I may not have made the national team.'
At club level she plays in a national Division One ladies' team at Liverpool canoe club Friends of Allonby, near her home town of Crosby, and for St Albans Canoe Club near London.
If she is re-selected, she will also be competing in the European Championships in Madrid this September.
After gaining her Masters Degree next year, she hopes to pursue her interests in the areas of exercise and nutrition, encouraging people to adopt healthier diets and build exercise into their daily routine.