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GB stars Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe launch artistic swimming project

A project to raise awareness of artistic swimming and encourage a new generation to take up the sport has been officially launched in Bristol.

The Swim England-led Artistic Swimming South West project will provide a continuous pathway from beginner level right through to elite performance in the city and wider region.

Great Britain duet athletes Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe helped kickstart the scheme with a routine in front of more than 50 people at Bristol’s Hengrove Park Leisure Centre.

City of Bristol Aquatics synchro club also performed, while the GB duet took part in a question and answer session with British Swimming chief executive Jack Buckner.

The Artistic Swimming South West project aims to capitalise on the growing interest and success of Shortman and Thorpe to develop a complete synchro package.

Karen Thorpe, Swim England artistic swimming (synchro) manager, said: “Our aspiration in the future is that we have a centralised performance programme for national team athletes which will combine a blend of education and training.

“It will put GB athletes on the same level as their competitors across Europe and the world.”

Unique artistic swimming offering

The Artistic Swimming South West project has four key areas:

  • Growing the participant base
  • Developing the Elite Pathway
  • Developing the workforce to increase the quality and quantity of coaches and administrators
  • And developing the surrounding region.

Sarah Darragh, Swim England artistic swimming (synchro) national development officer, said: “Our project aims to create a unique artistic swimming (synchro) offering in the city and the region, which is open to all, but with a focus on female engagement from all sections of the community.

“A Talent ID programme will connect participants with the Talent Pathway and we will develop relationships with the universities to provide seamless opportunities for talented performers to continue training through further and higher education.

“We also believe that barriers to activity can be addressed and removed effectively by providing a complete pathway in one area and will aim to engage a greater number of BAME participants into the sport.

“The concept will then become a blueprint for the development of the sport across the country.”

Key partners involved in the project are Swim England and British Swimming at a national level, with Bristol City Council, City of Bristol Aquatics synchro club, Clifton High School, Everyone Active, Parkwood Leisure, Swim England South West, University of Bristol, University of West England and WE Sport County Sports Partnership also backing the scheme.