LAURA Stephens admits it has been a “massive change” relocating to Plymouth and linking up with some of the country’s other talented elite swimmers.
But the Colchester Swimming Club member says she is enjoying her swimming scholarship and rubbing shoulders with some of the sports’ superstars.
Stephens, 14, has been sharing the pool with the likes of Olympic 100 metres breaststroke champion Ruta Meilutyte after taking up a scholarship earlier this month.
She has just begun working alongside world-class coach Jon Rudd, where she has been working towards gaining qualifying times for the Commonwealth Games.
Stephens said: “Plymouth is fantastic – I’m really enjoying it here under the new coaching and in boarding, which has also been a massive change for me.
“The training is different and very tough but I guess that’s to be expected when you move clubs.”
Over the course of the last five years, Stephens establish herself as one of the sport’s hottest talents.
The Wix teenager has excelled in several different disciplines with the help of Colchester SC and made it onto the England Talent programme.
Now she is hoping to move up to the next level where in addition to her training, she will receive guidance on aspects such as strength and conditioning, nutrition and diet.
“I can’t thank Colchester enough for what they’ve done for me,” said Stephens, who took part in the Exeter Open last weekend.
“If you’d told me when I joined that in two years they’d make me into a national champion, I wouldn’t have believed you.
“I’m looking forward to my holidays when I can go back and train with them again!”
Meanwhile, Colchester SC head coach Michelle Young believes Stephens has all of the attributes to succeed in Plymouth.
Young, who has worked closely with the international youth swimmer over recent years, knows she will get the best chance of progressing under Great Britain coach Rudd.
Young said: “Jon Rudd is a leading coach in the sport and she’ll get all of the benefits of being with him. She’ll be in very safe hands and he’s dealing with swimmers at the top level on a daily basis.
“He’ll look after Laura and make sure she has the best opportunities possible and the programme that she’s on will give her the best chance to do well.”