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A day in the life of a sporting scholar

Find out how Bath's brightest sports stars balance their studies with training at an elite level.

The University of Bath was the first UK university to introduce sports scholarships in the mid-1970s and they have supported spectacular athletes across a huge range of disciplines, from Olympic medallists to Premiership Rugby players.

There are 40 student athletes benefiting from a scholarship at Bath, which helps them to balance their studies with their training to achieve stellar results. We spoke to a member of the British Sailing Team, a modern pentathlete and an England badminton squad player about a typical day studying hard and training harder.

Sailing to success

Daisy Collingridge (BSc Psychology 2022) competes as part of the British Sailing Team and spends much of her time training in Weymouth. She is supported by a Santander Sports Scholarship.

Daisy out on the water in a sailing boat

“Sailing is quite an expensive sport, so the scholarship is really useful. There’s a lot of equipment that needs buying, and you’ve got to have the best if you want to be racing at the top level. We do a lot of travelling, as well, so the costs really add up. That financial support is so helpful.

“On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I have strength and conditioning training, so I’m up at 7am. My session runs from 7.30am to 8.30am, then I come back and have some breakfast.

“I have about an hour and a half in the morning to sit down and do a little bit of work. Usually that’s my admin time, when I do lots of planning. I have a Zoom meeting with my coaches at about 11.30am to talk through goals for the day and plans for when we’re on the water – we sometimes also debrief from the day before, too.

“We then typically train at 12.30pm or 1pm. We go down to the boat park, which is only a 10-minute walk from our accommodation. Our sailing sessions are usually about two to three hours long, and I'm training here with one of my best friends. We’re both very competitive, which makes the training efficient and ensures we get the most out of it.

“After coming back and having some food, it’s usually the time where I put aside around two-and-a-half hours to do work. I find it really good to do little and often, rather than leaving it all to the last minute and then having to put aside three days where, ideally, I'd want to be on the water.

“I’m now in my third year of studying psychology, but I’ve split it across two years to make it a bit easier. I found last year quite challenging because the workload was heavy, but I learnt a lot from it. The main thing for me is just being really disciplined.

“It is difficult trying to balance everything – especially when you're training alongside people who aren’t doing degrees – but it’s just what’s got to be done if you want to achieve in sports and studies. I’ve been fortunate so far, and I’ve been quite successful at both. I also really, really enjoy being busy!”

Five times the training

Bill Whiteley Sports Scholar Toby Price (MEng Mechanical Engineering 2023) is a modern pentathlete based at Bath’s Pentathlon GB National Training Centre.

Toby celebrating after a fencing match

“The training plan goes throughout the day, so sometimes we have to miss lectures or catch up with them later in order to train. In my first year, it was quite difficult – but 2020 was a lot easier because everything went online. It means I can train with the squad during the day and then do my work in the evenings.

“My training starts at 9am at the Sports Training Village. I start with a run – which could be a session on the track, a longer run or just an easy run out and about. That’s finished by about 10.15am and then I do some pre-pool work, such as a bit of bodyweight stuff in the gym. At 11am, I then head to the pool and do a session until about 12.15pm.

“After swimming, I’ve got about three hours until my next session. I get something to eat and then usually head to the studios at uni where I try to get as much work done as I can . On Mondays and Thursdays I have a fencing lesson from 4pm until 5.30pm, and on Wednesdays I ride during the afternoon. We have to travel about an hour and a half to the stables, so it takes up quite a chunk of the day.

“After training, I usually go home, make something to eat and do some more studying. I have Saturday afternoons and Sundays off from training, so on those days I just try to cram in as much work as I can!

“The scholarship is really useful – for example, it means I’m able to buy food from the Sports Café during the day rather than having to prepare a meal, which takes up time that could be used for something else. Being able to do that without worrying about how much it costs means I can have more time to recover between sessions.

“There’s also quite a lot of equipment needed for pentathlon, especially for fencing. If you snap a blade, that’s £100! Having the scholarship there to fall back on relieves a lot of the stress. If you're having to worry about trying to get a job in order to pay for these things, it can get in the way of what's really important in terms of training and studying.”

Photo credit: UIPM

Hitting multiple goals

Molly Chapman (BSc Sports Performance 2022) is part of the England badminton squad and is a Santander Sports Scholar.

Molly playing badminton

“I’ve been balancing training and education since I was about 12, so I’m quite used to managing my time. It can be quite stressful, but there's a lot of support around. My coach is fine if I need a day off, especially right after a tournament, and my course is designed for elite athletes so they understand that if I’m not there it’s because I’m travelling or trying to catch up with other work. I’ve split my third year over two years to make it more manageable, especially with my dissertation.

“I’m lucky that I don’t have to pay for kit as I’m sponsored by Adidas, but the scholarship really helps with fees and travel for tournaments, which are all over the world. I’ve been to places like Canada and Malaysia, as well as Europe!

“When I’m in Bath, I do strength and conditioning in the mornings – usually from 9am to 10am – and then train from 10am to 12pm. I’ll then have another session in the afternoon from about 2pm until 4pm.

“I try to get in two hitting sessions per weekday and then strength and conditioning training three times per week, but it depends on my timetable and lectures. If I can’t fit in two sessions on the court during a day, I’ll go to the gym and do some cardio, just to know that I’m still doing something.

“I do uni work back at home in the late afternoons and evenings. If I haven’t done enough throughout the week and I’m still stressing then I’ll do some more on Saturday or Sunday, but otherwise I try to have a chilled weekend. I might get a run or a little walk in, just to stay active!

"Once I've finished my degree, I'm hoping to go full-time at the National Badminton Centre in Milton Keynes.”

Photo credit: Adidas Badminton

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