St Stephen’s School Year 12 student Crystal Edwards is part of a high-performance Swimming program where she trains nine times a week for two hours at a time. She has been swimming with the UWA West Coast Swimming Club since she was seven years old and has won several medals at National Competitions.
As she continues to improve her personal best and work towards her ultimate goal of making it to the Olympic Swim Team, Crystal is in her final year of school and credits St Stephen’s School’s Elite Athlete Program (EAP) with helping her to balance study and sporting commitments.
“The flexibility and extra study time the EAP provides is invaluable,” Crystal said. “It lowers my stress levels when I have a lot of tests or assignments coming up in the week, which flows into my training, allowing me to have a clear head and focus on training goals rather than schoolwork.”
“The Program gives me a private study period, where I go to the school library and catch up on work, I have missed due to training or study for tests and exams.”
“It [the Program] has allowed me to work on my time management and organisation skills; I’ve always been on top of my work, but this program has enhanced my appreciation for study time.”
St Stephen’s School Principal Donella Beare said the EAP works alongside the next generation of sporting stars to help them achieve both in the classroom and on the field.
“With heavy training schedules and travel for competitions, balancing study and sporting commitments can be a challenge for our more athletic students but the EAP personalises academic programming to help the selected students reach their potential across the board,” Mrs Beare said.
“We work collaboratively with students, their teachers and families to develop a supportive learning framework including flexible assessment deadlines, leaves of absence to compete, online curriculum and assignment submission and support and advocacy within the school environment.”
Students wishing to access the support of the EAP must fulfil certain criteria demonstrated by competing at State or National level, membership of a State or National squad or team and recognition by the Australian Institute of Sport or a State Institute or Academy.
“The discipline, determination and commitment that propel athletes into the elite level of their chosen sport are admirable character traits and we view the Program’s participants as ambassadors for sport in the school community,” Mrs Beare said.
Athletic ability runs in the Williams family for Alexander (Year 10) and Eleanor (Year 8). The brother and sister duo are leading competitors in the Men’s Artistic Gymnastics and Diving fields, respectively.
Alexander competes on Floor, Vault, Pommel Horse, High Bar, Parallel Bars and Rings. He started training when he was five and has represented the State since 2017.
“I train 24 hours a week and have just started coaching an additional five hours a week,” he said.
“The EAP is very helpful as it allows me to fit in my training and school commitments and my teachers are flexible with due dates if I need it.”
With a swathe of medals already on display in the family home, Alexander’s goal is to continue to improve and compete in higher levels, working towards a place at the Australian Institute of Sport.
While small in stature, Eleanor makes quite a splash in the Diving field, competing in 1m and 3m Springboard and 5m, 7m and 10m Platform Diving. She was named Talent Identification (TID) State Champion in 2017 and 2018 and in 2019 she earned the Junior C State Champion title for the 1m, 3m, Platform and Synchro categories.
“I am a member of Diving WA… and for the last six months I have been on a trial with the WA Institute of Sport Diving Squad,” Eleanor said.
“The EAP allows me to fit in my training and school commitments, especially as I am late to school most mornings and need to leave early most afternoons.
“The teachers are all very accommodating and understanding, they help me to catch up on what I’ve missed, I can keep up to date on (the School’s learning management system) SEQTA if I’m away on any trips and I also get a double study period to catch up once a fortnight instead of doing Recreation.”