Bristol Beatrice Crass synchornised swimming

Helping Bristol’s budding Olympian go from wheels to water

A budding Olympian in Bristol is going from wheels to water thanks to a partnership with First West of England.

Nineteen-year-old synchronised swimming medallist, Beatrice Crass, is making her daily 20-mile round trips between her University of the West of England accommodation to her training centre in Hengrove thanks to a free bus pass courtesy of the bus operator.

Beatrice, who is in her second year studying English with a view to becoming a journalist, has been synchronised swimming since the age of nine and now has her eyes set on competing in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles – if mixed duet synchronised swimming becomes an Olympic sport.

Now a member of TeamGB’s synchronised swimming team, the keen sportswoman brought her two passions of swimming and dancing together at the age of nine, and has so far competed in championships around the world, her latest being the European Games in Poland where she and her swimming partner won two bronze medals. Other competitions have taken her to the World Cup in Oviedo in Spain and Montpellier in France, the World Championships in Fukuoka in Japan, and the European Championships in Madeira.

Beatrice is now in full training at Hengrove Park Leisure Centre where TeamGB’s national synchronised swimmers are based. In fact, synchronised swimming enthusiasts, like Beatrice, have moved their life to Bristol and have specifically chosen to study at the city’s universities simply so they can train at Hengrove’s impressive 50m swimming pool.

Beatrice’s training, which is helping her head to the World Championships in Doha in Qatar in the new year, sees her take a trip to Hengrove Leisure Centre almost every day, with pre-competition sessions meaning she trains for eight hours, six days a week, while juggling her studies.  

Speaking about the support offered by First West of England, Beatrice said: “It means a lot. Being able to have the bus basically door-to-door between my studies and swimming is massively helpful, and I wouldn’t have another way to do both at the same time. I’m so grateful for this partnership with First West of England which makes it a lot easier and helps me follow my passion without worrying about the cost of travel.”

Beatrice, who got into synchronised swimming because it was “intriguing and something completely different”, secured her place in TeamGB a couple of years ago after being put through her paces in a series of trials against other women in her age group, including testing her strength and flexibility and speed and dance skills in the water. Her place on the team makes her among the country’s top synchronised swimmers.

Sarah Wallbridge, First West of England’s Senior Marketing Manager, said: “We pride ourselves on supporting our local community, whether that’s groups or individuals, and every so often the dedication of someone really captures the imagination. Beatrice is one of those; having started her passion at the age of nine and within 10 years becoming a member of TeamGB, winning awards at global championships and now setting her sights on the Olympics, we wanted to help towards that dream.

“With her gruelling training regime seeing her take the bus from the University of the West of England to Hengrove Leisure Centre most days, it seemed obvious for us to offer our support by providing her with a free bus pass.

“We’re chuffed that Beatrice is waving the Bristol flag around the world, and we’ll be cheering her on as she continues to compete on what we hope is her road to the Olympics, and we’re proud that in our own small way we would have helped her get there.”