Sport School

530It is our intention to set up a Residential Programme at the BEST Centre, commencing September 2011. The idea is that a small number of swimmers, initially in years 9 and 10, will have the opportunity to combine their academic careers alongside their swimming career. In effect, we would become a small, private swimming academy. We would take as much care with the academic achievement of the athlete, as we will with their swimming achievement.

Most swim programmes in schools tend first and foremost to be a school, and the swim programme fits in around the academic timetable. Waking up at 6am to go swimming is part of a swimmer’s life. Waking up at 4.30am seems just plain wrong.

Our view is that it makes more sense to plan a day, a week, a term and a year around the individual needs of the student and the athlete. With a small, independent school running a flexible timetable and an outdoor 50m pool, we can do exactly that. Students will have a cutting edge education, combining small class sizes and one to one teaching support with internet resources, interactive study and tapping into the educational blogosphere.

Students will be able to take advantage of a British education in an international setting, with an outdoor 50m pool in which to train every day. The school will be fully accredited by the National Association of British Schools in Spain, with regular government inspections to ensure that parents and students have confidence in both the educational delivery and boarding environment.Academic Life

We expect to excel in our academic results. We know swimmers tend to outperform any other sports groups in their exam results and we will support the students in the pursuit of the best exam results they can achieve.

Our first intake is expected to be 14 – 16 students only, in years 9 and 10. Year 11 students are welcome but need to consider any move at this time in their education very carefully. We will offer up to 12 IGCSEs in the following subjects: English (2), Maths (1), Combined Science (2), ICT, Geography, History, RE, PE, Spanish and Food Science.

In our second year, we will accept students in years 9, 10 and 11. In our third year, or before if numbers demand, we will offer a choice of 5 A level subjects to year 12 students, and in the fourth year, we will have students from years 9-13. Students may elect to take 5 A levels, or 1, or none; there will be no educational requirement for years 12 and 13. Having said this, we expect the swimmers to move on in their lives. Staying in swimming, they may continue at the BEST Cente academy, or move on to a University in the UK, the USA or elsewhere, or move into one of the ITC programmes in the UK. We will help and support whichever move seems most appropriate for the individual. If they move away from swimming, we hope to have provided the ideal academic, sporting and human foundations upon which they can successfully pursue any path they choose.

While in theory we can take students in years 7 and 8, we think these swimmers should be with their families, not living in another country. We will always consider applications from these year groups and with sufficient numbers, it may be that this view is reconsidered in the coming years.

We will have an accelerated English programme for those students where English is not their first language.

The Boarding House

The boarding house will be a safe, relaxing environment where the athletes feel at home away from home. The pool and classrooms will be short walk away and the swimmers will be supervised 24 hours a day. The town of Colonia Sant Jordi is an outstanding location in which to live, and family will be welcome to visit the academy any time they like.

All regulations relating to child welfare will be strictly observed. The regulations exist not just to ensure the safety of the individual, but also to provide an environment that is conducive to learning, to academic and sporting excellence, to human development and to building positive experiences that shape a young person’s life.

There will be time for study and time for relaxation, time for social interaciton and time to oneself. The boarding house has to be a fun place for young people to hang out and express themselves, while respecting other people and the boarding environment.

Swimming Life

With a small group, an outdoor Olympic pool on hand and coaches committed to the success of every individual, we believe the swimmers can make huge progress in their chosen sport. We know that only a tiny handful of the very best swimmers ever make it to an Olympic Games and we will not pretend that this is a realistic prospect for everyone. But for some, it surely is.We will coach the swimmers the best we can and we will set our sights at the highest levels. But we are certain of one thing: everyone will be given the best possible chance of reaching their swimming potential. Whatever level that is, we believe that the most important thing is not what you win in your swimming career but who you become from your swimming career. First and foremost we want to build the person. If that person also becomes a great swimmer, or a great something else, we hope to have prepared them fully for whatever comes their way.The residential team will compete both in Spanish meets and competitions in the UK, with a view that the national youth championships will be the natural end to the training year. The coaches will determine the competition schedule according to the mix of athletes that are accepted into the academy.

We want to create an environment that doesn’t just make champions. We want to create an environment that makes champions inevitable.

The First Year

The first intake is planned for September 2011. If you have an interest to discuss the idea of a swimming academy, and why Colonia Sant Jordi might be the right place for your child’s education and swimming, please contact James Parrack to talk in more detail and in confidence. Call James on +44 161 408 2982, or +33 6 87 28 73 68, or email at As soon as we have the physical location of the boarding house and the staff structure we will publish the school fees. The fees are likely to be similar to the fees at the established swimming schools in the UK.

We are actively looking for a head of school and a head of the boarding house. If you know anyone that may be interested in taking up one of these positions, please forward our details or call James for further discussion. We are particularly interested to talk with any parent of a potential student of the academy that would like to take on the role of overseeing the boarding house. The school fees would be free, and the accommodation and food would be included as part of the offer.

More details on all aspects of the BEST Academy will appear here in the coming weeks.