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Kelly Simm

MSc Sport Science for Performance Coaching
Graduated 2019

Portrait image of Kelly Simm

Kelly Simm has competed as a GB athlete in gymnastics, and is a high performance athlete at Solent University. Kelly studied BSc (Hons) Applied Sport Science at Solent and graduated in 2019. She is now studying MA Sport Science and Performance Coaching at Solent as a Performance Sport Scholar.

Kelly's achievements

  • Commonwealth Games, 2014: Team Gold
  • World University Games, 2015: All Around Gold, Vault Silver, Floor Bronze
  • World Championships, 2015: Team Bronze
  • British Championships, 2018: All Around Gold, Bars Gold, Beam Bronze
  • Commonwealth Games, 2018: Team Silver, Beam Bronze
  • European Championships, 2018: Bars Finalist
  • British Championships, 2019

How has Solent supported you in your sport?

The High Performance Academy (HPA) has been a big support for me in my sport through my undergraduate studies and currently during my master’s degree. The regular physio they provide has been invaluable to me going through my career and they have been able to communicate with my physios within the English Institute of Sport to make sure everyone is on the same page. In the past I have also been able to do rehab and strength and conditioning sessions in the gym between lectures, as well as also have regular meetings with Kelly who has provided support for a wide range of things throughout my career.

Briefly describe a typical day on your undergraduate course

For me, because I had to fit the course around my gymnastics training, my classes were typically bunched together to allow me to go off to training in the afternoon and evening. I might have lectures, seminars or practicals from 9am to 12pm and then I would be done for the day to go to training between 1pm and 8pm. This meant I sometimes jumped between a few different classes, but it allowed me to still attend as many lessons as possible without missing too much.

How has Solent supported you to study?

Solent has always been supportive of my commitments outside of university, which has enabled me to combine my sporting career with study. I completed my undergraduate degree over five years, which allowed me to pursue a degree without compromising any aspect of my training. This year, going into the master’s, it has been predominantly online for me, and with it just being one day a week of delivery, it has worked well, and I have been able to do it full-time alongside training. The lecturers understand performance sport and the demands and pressures I am under at certain points, and are very supportive and easy to communicate with when needed.

I would recommend anyone interested in studying a degree to consider it alongside a career in high-level sport...I found university and sport complemented each other so well.

Do you have advice for students looking to study the courses you have done and/or other students also doing high-level sport?

There was a lot of concern at first from people around me that pursing a degree alongside my sport could be a distraction and would cause too much stress. However, it has been the complete opposite and I would recommend anyone interested in studying a degree to consider it alongside a career in high-level sport. It isn’t always easy but as an athlete you have developed the skills to be organised and prioritise, and I found university and sport complemented each other so well.

My advice would be: if you can show the lecturers that you are willing to work hard and are committed to your studies, they will always be there to give you their support. I would also say: try to communicate with the lecturers and support team around you and find out what support and flexibility they are able to offer you. Whenever I had to be away for training camps or competitions (which was sometimes months at a time), communication was vital to know what I needed to do and what I would be missing, as it was my responsibility to stay on track. However, the lecturers were always so understanding, and we were always able to plan and work around these times.

What's your Solent highlight?

Getting to meet new friends on the course and be a part of the high performance programme; and getting to represent Solent at the World University Games in Korea in 2015 and win the All Around competition.

How has Solent helped you prepare for a career?

This master’s has felt like a big shift towards high-performance sport, and we have constantly been encouraged to apply what we are studying to our real-life situations in our individual sports or roles we might be aspiring to go into. The lecturers have worked in many different fields and sports, which is great as they each bring different experiences and expertise to sessions, so there is always a good balance of learning the theory and discussions around real-life practice. We have also had a few assessments this year which have involved us running sessions or workshops for different athletes remotely, so that helps to apply your knowledge, feel more confident, and prepare you for a career.

Do you have any plans for the future?

Right now, I’m just really focusing on training and on completing my master’s degree – and trying to get the most out of both of those things. There are so many things I love about sport and would love to start exploring!

What have been your highlights?

I have had a lot of incredible experiences, but probably one of my highlights so far would be the Commonwealth Games. I have got three medals now (Gold, Silver and Bronze) from two different Commonwealth Games (Glasgow, 2014 and the Gold Coast, 2018), so that’s a really big achievement for me. Also, winning the British All Around title in 2018 was a massive achievement and came as a bit of a surprise following a few years of injury. I also got to represent Solent at the World University Games in Korea in 2015 and win the All Around competition.

It was also a huge honour to co-open the new sports complex alongside Helena Lucas MBE in 2019. The sports complex had been a long time coming and it was so exciting when we finally got to go inside! It is crazy now that every time I go in I see my name on the plaque in the entrance to the building – but such a huge honour!

Getting to meet new friends on the course was another highlight, and graduation in 2019 was very special for me, being able to celebrate that achievement with my family.