The Waterski Academy is a very special place. Although situated in the north of England, waterskiing is possible year-round. While the rest of us in Europe forget about our ski in winter and spend our free time at the gym, the members of the Waterski Academy put on their dry suits and caps and ski! Even when it is snowing! Time to get to know them a little bit better.

By Nick McGarry

The Waterski Academy is the brain child of BWSW Coach of the Year, Nick McGarry. He is a former British Team Member, a BWSW Director and an International Senior Judge. It is a Voluntary Social Enterprise with Community Interest Company status. Its aims are to improve and develop people’s Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Social wellbeing via the wonderful outdoor pursuit that is Water Skiing. It also encourages it's members to be part of the organisation and facilitate its daily activities on a voluntary basis.

Entering into our seventh season we have built a family orientated facility to be enjoyed by all.

We promote Tournament Water Skiing and organise a number of Competitions every year.

As well as its Members and the centre also attracts “Pay & Play” users, Students on residential Courses and organised groups; schools and colleges, youth groups and charities.

The majority of our users ski purely for recreation but we do train current and future British Team Members. We can cater for the needs of wheelchair users as we are fully accessible, inclusive and open to all.

We run a subsidised “Schools Program” with all our local Schools, introducing kids to The BWSW "Cutting Edge" Program.

As a club we have benefitted greatly from our BWSW affiliation and value the information and resources we have access to. It has always been central to our ethos to support the Governing Body and any profit we make is ploughed back into sport.

Last year we supported the Tournament 200 club (funding British Team Travel), we have Invested in "Splash Eye" (competition software) for The BWSW North West Region so that we can hold World Class Competitions in our Region.

We have become a learning resource for the sport and run regular training courses in First Aid, Safe Guarding, BWSW Coaching and Driving Qualifications, and this year will be adding Emergency Procedures and Health and Safety training, specific to our sport, to the roster.

To build a successful waterski facility you need good people to create an encouraging atmosphere and good facilities but you also need good equipment. That is why from day one we have worked very closely with the Malibu Boat Company at Hazelwoods Ski World to ensure that there are always reliable, well maintained, top quality boats on the water.

We have built up a stock of equipment to be proud of, drysuits, wetsuits, impact jackets and shorts, Bluetooth helmets, booms, towers, every ski/board or training aid imaginable, we have invested in it and the usage is included in the cost of the lesson.

We operate a booking system and are available dawn until dusk 7 days a week all year round from our beautiful stone built Victorian reservoir keepers house. We can offer over-night accommodation on site and have also secured favourable rates for our visitors at the local B&B’s. Located in a picturesque Pennine Valley we are right in the middle of some stunning scenery.

Pennine Valley by Brett Jordan (Unsplash)

Rossendale truly is a hidden gem of a Holiday Location. Apart from The Waterski Academy, there is Ski Rossendale, Lee Quarry Mountain Bike Centre, Cowm Quarry Motocross, Quad bikes, Enduro and 4x4 off road tracks and loads more to do. We literally have miles and miles of cycle tracks and hill walks with of course plenty of Country Pubs. Just 40 minutes from Manchester Airport and 25 minutes from the City Centre with all its attractions we offer guest rates to all BWSW members and look forward to your visit soon.

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My name is Nadine Botas, I am 35 years old and I have been dedicated to waterskiing since I was 3 years old. A passion that I share with my parents, sister and husband.

Waterskiing is a little-known sport in Spain, here only “Sunday skiing” is known, which is done on the beach. But our waterskiing goes much further, we ski at a professional level. We have our own waterski center, Botaski, where we teach at all levels. Our youngest skier was only 2 years old and our oldest 87.

The highlights of my professional career are: European Champion Under 14, Third at the U21 European Championships and I got to several finals in the Open European Championships. My 2017 season ended with a new personal best and I was ranked 16th on the European Ranking List and 34th on the World Ranking List. I have a personal best of 5@11,25m.

On a personal level, after 10 years with Iván, I married him in 2015. We share the same passion for this sport and this was what united us. He got second twice at the Open European Championships and he became World Champion 35+ in 2016.

I had never thought about having children. I never had a maternal instinct and I always thought that for women with a career in sport there is never the right time for it. Either you are in the middle of the waterski season or you are preparing for the next. You lose at least one season, if not more. In my case, I start training on the water in March and competing in June. The championship season is from June to October. In November I leave the water and begin to prepare for the next season. So there is never a good time…

When I started thinking about getting pregnant, I tried to find to most suitable moment in my life. When considering the pros and cons, there were always more cons. Beside the fears and uncertainties that where striking me. Will I be able to compete at my level? Will my body recover?

Earlier, in April 2017 I had a natural abortion, something I don’t wish for any woman to have. I went on my three month visit and the gynecologist with zero apathy let me go as if nothing had happened.

It was a very big emotional shock. I never thought this could happen to me. Apart from the physical shock that an abortion brings, I had to go to the operating room the next day. And I had to go through quarantine.

I had lost my baby and I couldn’t do what I like most. It was a tough few months. In May I started my season on the water, in July I did my first tournament and in October I managed to ski another personal record. This proved to me that I was stronger than I thought and a place on the podium was still possible.

In October 2017, in the last championship of the season, I skied a personal best of 5@11,25. With a score that would have meant a podium place if it had been done in the European Championships that same year. A month later I got pregnant and I thought: Now? It just felt so good right now being on the water…

During this second pregnancy I went through with a lot of fear. I felt very bad during the first months, I couldn’t move from the sofa. When I went for my three months visit to the gynecologist (another one evidently 😀 ), I arrived there with a horrible fear. The baby was fine.

After four months of pregnancy I started to feel good again and when our summer heat arrived with six months, I decided to go in the water, just to enjoy the pleasure of being in the water. Always with consent of my gynecologist.

Water is my way of life, I have been skiing since I was 3 years old. So there was no danger at all for me to be on the water, without getting any buoys. People will read this and think I was crazy doing this but I would repeat it a thousand times again.

Waterskiing was the best thing of the day for me, not only because thanks to it, I did not get a sore back during pregnancy, but also because when you compete, you are always in “tension” mode. You have to train well, compete well, follow the correct diet, a routine… And skiing pregnant just for the pure pleasure of enjoyment made me happy, every day I left the water with a smile. Before I got pregnant, I didn’t leave the water every day happy with what I had done.

Why not do something that feels good and makes you happy? I think it is very important to be happy during pregnancy, because it is a great physical and emotional change. So all the positive input was more than welcome. You have to spoil yourself to the fullest.

I worked until the last day organizing Worlds u17 at Botaski. I felt good and I think it is important to be active in pregnancy unless, by prescription, you have to rest. I gained 20 kilos, a lot. But I had a very big baby. My gynecologist told me that I wasn’t allowed to gain more than 9 kilos, I laughed. But it was not something that worried me too much. The only thing that mattered to me was that me and my baby were fine.

Eight months later, I still have to lose 1,5 kilos but if there is something that I have learned in sport, is to be constant. If you work hard, then at the end it has his reward. I have no doubt that I will return to my normal weight. Although it is hard to see that your body has had such a physical change, it is also very important to be aware of it and accept it.

I was in labour for two days. It was a very complicated and painful delivery and I had a hard time forgetting it. But I will remember it the next time I have to compete and get nervous. I had such a bad time, even thinking that I could die, that competing now will seem “easy peasy” to me. Something positive had to come from giving birth 😀

When I got out of quarantine after Hugo was born and the gynecologist gave me the OK, I threw myself into the water. Without any purpose, I just started moving in the water for hours until the end of the season, so the beginning of the 2019 season wouldn’t be so hard.

The first day I skied, I remember perfectly the feeling of instability, the sagging, not finding my position. I was very surprised because the sensations when I was pregnant were so much better than after having given birth. I thought it would be a matter of time, but the weeks went by and I still felt very weak in my gut. To ski you need your gut and that entire area to be like a rock.

I started working out on land, did some circuit training, but when it came to the weights it was impossible and I was in despair. I could not even get out of bed with Hugo. Something is not right, I thought. And that’s when I found Mamifit, an organization here in Spain that helps women to get in shape before, during and after pregnancy.

They came to my house to do an assessment of the pelvic floor. It turned out I had Diastasis Recti, separation of the muscles along the midline of the abdomen, of 6 cm. That was the reason why I could not stand in the posture you need for skiing or even make an effort. If I wanted not only to return to my level of skiing but also to have a normal life, I had to get to work.

Since last November I have started working with Mamifit. Once a week with them and the other days I had to do the exercises they gave me. I was not allowed to do anything else. In February, I had an evaluation and the diastasis was down from 6 to 1 cm. I was allowed to go to the gym. The first day I went to the gym I cried. I couldn’t do anything. Before I got pregnant, I knew this was really hard for a woman’s body but until the moment you experience this, you have no idea what pregnancy and giving birth is doing to your body. It is really hard...

I started with 2 days at the gym doing exercises at the machines, 2 days doing Zumba and 1 day with the personal trainer at Mamifit. I started to ski on March 1st and although it felt better than in September, I am not there yet. My belly is not strong enough as it used to be, so I can’t hold and lose the position easily.

There is still a long way to go and at this moment, I don’t think I will be able to compete this year. It is really frustrating to see where you are now on the ski. But if I can’t compete, it is not the end of the world. As long as I can be in the water with Hugo and take him to ski with me this summer, it’s fine with me.

After so many years competing, I have no doubt that my greatest achievement is Hugo.

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Did you know that France is the most visited country in the world? Every year, 82.6 million people visit France because of the historic sites, the beautiful scenery and the cuisine. There is so much to do for the whole family! France has also many places to ski. There are lots of ski schools and clubs were visitors can come by for a ski set or more. So it is well worth bringing your ski on your summer holiday. Here are 10 places that you should visit while spending your holiday in France.

1 Ezy Lake, Ezy sur Eure

This club is situated 45 minutes west from Paris. It is a ski school and a club. There are three lakes. Two lakes are for visiting skiers and one lake is for members only. All coaches are recognized by the French Federation. They also organize camps for kids and they host tournaments. Price for one ski set is € 50. They have packages.

Of course Paris is the main attraction here. But Ezy sur Eure is also a charming little town and Vernon, on the banks of the river Seine, is also a nice town to visit. More info about the area can be found on the France This Way website.

Ezy Lake

2 Aqu’aventure, Gravon

Situated 50 minutes southeast from Paris, this site is also a ski school and a club. Non members can ski by set, by day(s) or by week, always with a coach in the boat. The price of a ski set is € 45 during the week and € 55 in the weekend. There is also an option to buy a 60 minutes pass (this is about 6 sets), which costs € 180 during the week and € 215 in the weekend.

For tourism, a must see place in the area is Fontainebleau. This town southeast of Paris, is about 40 minutes from the ski site. A lovely historical town, famous for its Château de Fontainebleau, with beautiful gardens with fountains and sculptures.


3 Sports Service / Lacanau Ski Club

Lacanau Ski Club is one hour drive west from Bordeaux. They have two lakes, they offer skiing with coaching on both lakes. One set is € 49. They also offer packages for those who want to stay for a couple days or a week. There is a small restaurant and a swimming pool and they have houses for rent. There is a camping site with mobile homes on walking distance.

Lacanau Océan, only a 15 min. drive from the ski school, is famous for surfing. It is one of the best surfing beaches in France. There are numerous surf schools and kite surfing lessons, but in addition to these you can also find around 150 km of cycle pathways, hiking trails and golf courses.

Lacanau Ski Club (pictures by Eudes Metivier)

4 Ski Nautique Bordeaux, Baurech

The ski school is situated in the middle of the famous Bordeaux vineyards and only 15 minutes from downtown Bordeaux. There are two slalom courses and they offer coaching. There is a club house with lounge chairs to relax between the sets. A ski set starts at € 41 for 15 minutes.

Of course Bordeaux is the obvious city to visit when you are visiting Baurech and you should absolutely visit it. Here are 10 reasons why you should. But if you are into wine, then Saint-Émilion is not to be missed. A medieval village in the middle of the Bordeaux wine area, where everything is about wine. You can visit a wine chateau, do a wine tasting, have a good meal (with wine of course), walk around the narrow medieval streets with lots of shops that sell… wine.

Ski Nautique Bordeaux (pictures by Nicolas Rousselot)

5 Le Plan d’Eau, Arcachon

The Plan d’Eau is 50 minutes southeast from Bordeaux. There is a camping site next to the ski site with mobile homes to rent. The ski school teaches slalom, tricks and jump, there is always a coach in the boat. The ski school hosts two international tournaments per year, with lots of international skiers visiting just for the competition. A ski set will cost you € 3 per minute, around € 36 - € 42 for a ski set of 6 – 8 passes. There is a small restaurant and bar at the ski school.

6 Crystal Lac, Taninge

Situated in the French Alpes, 35 km directly east-southeast from Geneva, this is a ski school on a man-made lake open to everyone. A ski set will cost € 50 but you if you ski more sets, you can buy a card or a membership so it will be cheaper. After skiing you can hike into the mountains or visit Lake Geneva.

Crystal Lac (pictures by Jenna Gay)

7 Ski Caraibes, Albertville

Albertville is best known for hosting the Winter Olympics in 1992. It is situated in southeastern France, 90 km from Geneva or 160 km from Lyon. The ski club is a little outside Albertville with a beautiful view on the mountains and crystal clear water. It is both a ski school and a club. They have club members, but they also welcome outsiders to come and ski. The cost is € 50 per set.

If you are into winter sports, the House of Winter Olympics has a permanent exhibition about the Winter Olympics. And the medieval city of Conflans, only a short drive from Albertville, is also worth visiting. And of course the mountains and villages around Albertville offer lots of outdoor activities.

Ski Caraibes

8 Monaco Wake and Ski, Roquebrune-sur-Argens

Roquebrune-sur-Argens is situated in the south of France on the Côte d’Azur, close to the city of Fréjus. Don’t be fooled by the name “Monaco Wake and Ski”, the country of Monaco is actually 90 km from the ski site. It is a club and a ski school. Club members pay an annual fee and benefit from lower ski prices and preferred times. Non-members can ski outside of members times and the price is € 50. Non-members can contact Genevieve de Stadieu at to reserve a ski slot.

This ski club hosted last year’s U21 and Disabled Europeans and this year they are hosting the U14 and U17 Europeans. So if you happen to be in the area between 27 and 31 August 2019, you can visit and watch it.

The Côte d’Azur, or French Riviera, has so many things to see and do. You can go to the beach or visit cities like Nice, Cannes and Monaco.

Monaco Wake and Ski (pictures by Jean-François Gilles)

9 Camargue Paradise, Aigues-Mortes

Camargue Paradis is situated in the South of France, 40 minutes from Montpellier. The ski school offers waterskiing at all levels. One set of slalom will cost € 48 for 6-8 passes. It has a nice sun deck with lounge chairs and a small restaurant.

The Camargue area is well known for its wetlands. There are lots of lakes and lagoons, where you can see flamingos and many other birds. This area is also known for its salt (fleur de sel). You can book tours to find out all about this special salt. Another interesting thing to visit is Aigues-Mortes. This is a fascinating little town because of the medieval walls that surround the entire historic town.

Camargue Paradis

10 Vincent Soubiron Ski School, Seysses

This ski school is situated in the South of France, 35 minutes southwest from Toulouse. Vincent Soubiron is a well known waterski coach, who coaches Sacha Descuns and many other high level competition skiers. The rates vary from € 36 for beginners to € 60 for professionals with Vincent in the boat. The lake has two slalom courses so they can choose where to ski depending on the wind.

After skiing the city of Toulouse is the obvious place to go, if you have more time then I would say drive to the famous fortified city of Carcassonne (1 hour and 15 minutes drive from the ski site).

Vincent Soubiron Ski School

This is our pick of places to ski when you are in France. But of course there are many more places to ski in France. Have you been to any of these yet? Which one is your favorite?

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