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British artistic swimming squad set for ‘new lease of life’ after memorable 2022

Great Britain’s artistic swimmers are set for a ‘new lease of life’ in 2023 as they aim to build on a memorable last 12 months and become ‘even more competitive’.

A total of 14 athletes have been selected for the senior programme for the new season, with two new additions to the duet squad and the first male athlete included.

Joining Olympic duo Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe in the duet squad are Daniella Lloyd and Robyn Swatman.

The quartet are also part of the group of full-time team members based at the High Performance Centre in Bristol – Isobel Blinkhorn, Millie Costello, Beatrice Crass, Isobel Davies, Rhea Howard, Cerys Hughes, Aimee Lawrence and Laura Turberville.

Junior world medallist and Swim England National Award winner Ranjuo Tomblin and Eleanor Blinkhorn complete the squad as part-time members.

Karen Thorpe, Swim England artistic swimming manager, believes the squad are well equipped to cope with sweeping rule changes introduced by international governing body, FINA.

She believes the new regulations will help the British team flourish as they prepare for another hectic year which includes the European and World Championships.

Really positive

Karen said: “With all the changes that we’ve got to make for the sport, it is going to be massively challenging.

“I’m so glad we started the programme last year so that we’ve got a lot of the foundation work set up already, and the athletes understand what is expected of them.

“We have got a really great bunch of athletes, including some of the younger ones from the juniors that have moved up to seniors, and a couple that are with us part-time because they’re still in education.

“I am really positive about the changes.

“I think it’s going to be really good for us, particularly with the duet, because we are pretty strong technically, and the new system should lend itself quite well for us.

“We’ve got some exciting competitions coming up, and the way the new ranking system works, we’re going to have to appear at quite a few of those.

“That’s going to be challenging in itself, figuring out how we resource that.

Even more competitive

“But it’s all really exciting and it’s kind of like a new lease of life for us that we know there could be quite a bit of significant change because of the new rules, so that’s exciting.”

A successful 2022 saw GB reach finals in each of the six World Championship events they entered, a series of impressive performances at the European Championships and a host of medals won at international junior and youth competitions.

“The summer was completely crazy,” said Karen. “We had seven internationals this year, Europeans and Worlds in every age group, including the seniors.

It was really important for us to be at those competitions because, significantly for us, we have a couple of boys involved, and the men’s and mixed events are really being pushed heavily. The men’s solo event is a new one that has come in, so we want to showcase our male athletes and give them experience so we can continue to be medal contenders.

“There are a lot of really good learnings from this last year, down through the pathway, not just at the senior level, and looking at how we are going to do things.

“We started structuring things a little differently last year, how we can focus in ways on athletes competing in solo and duets across the pathway, and we’ve enhanced that a bit more this year.

“I think that will really help us to make the step change that is needed for us to be even more competitive.”

Senior squad selection

Duet squad

  • Daniella Lloyd
  • Kate Shortman
  • Robyn Swatman
  • Isabelle Thorpe

Full-time team members

  • Isobel Blinkhorn
  • Millie Costello
  • Beatrice Crass
  • Isobel Davies
  • Rhea Howard
  • Cerys Hughes
  • Aimee Lawrence
  • Laura Turberville

(Daniella, Kate, Robyn and Isabelle from the duet squad are also part of the full-time team)

Part-time team members

  • Eleanor Blinkhorn
  • Ranjuo Tomblin