There were no lie-ins for West Ham United's players and staff on Wednesday as the Hammers kicked-off the day with a water polo tournament.

Alarm calls woke the squad at 6.30am before they grabbed their towels and rode the short distance to the local swimming pool for a 7am start.

There, fitness coach Eamon Swift split the players and staff players into four teams for what quickly turned into a typically competitive competition. Among the staff members who joined the players in the pool was strength and conditioning coach Mathew Monte-Colombo, who is celebrating his birthday. With that, first-team coach and referee Wally Downes got the games underway.


Head of medicine Andy Rolls explained that exercising in the swimming pool had many benefits for the players.

"Training in water reduces the stress on the muscles and the joints, while the resistance of the water helps to build up muscle strength," said Rolls. "So, the players are conditioning their bodies and having fun at the same time."

The activity in the pool quickly attracted the attention of youngsters from a school across the road, who evidently begin their day earlier than their English counterparts.

While all the matches were competitive, it quickly became clear that having a good goalkeeper was vital to a team's success. With that in mind, Team Two put Stephen Henderson in goal and the 6'4 stopper kept a succession of tournament-clinching clean sheets.

While Henderson was unbeatable, Jack Collison again proved his prowess as a water polo star by prompting play in an influential midfield role. Ahead of him, Kevin Nolan was on hand to convert chances from close-range, just as he does on the football pitch.

Nolan's winning team was completed by Nicky Maynard, who scored one searing long-range goal, Ricardo Vaz Te and head of rehabilitation Stijn Vandenbroucke.

Water polo

Team One proved to be second best on the day, winning through to the final courtesy of scoring seven goals in their opening three games. However, James Tomkins, Guy Demel, George McCartney, Sam Baldock, Gary O'Neil and Mark Noble came up just short in the final.

Teams Three and Four played-off for third place, but the two sides could not find a winner in normal time and were forced to share the wooden spoon.

After the water polo, Noble made his way to the top of a nearby water slide, only to find the water flow turned off and have to make his way down on foot!

The short ride back to the hotel was followed by breakfast before the players began to prepare for their morning training session at 10am, where Noble did his best Henri Lansbury impression by donning the goalkeeper's gloves before the action began.

Mark Noble

That session saw the players go through an activation session in the indoor gym and enjoy a warm-up jog before joining assistant manager Neil McDonald for a series of drills on the pitch.

After that, it was time for more keep-ball sessions while goalkeeper Martyn Margetson worked with Jussi Jaaskelainen and Stephen Henderson.

Having ridden back to the hotel for lunch, the players and staff posed for a photograph outside the team hotel before being given the afternoon for free time.

The squad's golfers headed over the road to the local course, while some chose to walk into the nearby town or simply relax by the hotel pool.

The day will finish with a team-building barbecue on the hotel verandah to complete another productive 24 hours in Austria.

*Keep an eye out for updates from Austria throughout the week on, West Ham TV, Facebook and twitter.

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