Swim England Artistic Swimming

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Reading complete a clean sweep and special moment for Blinkhorn sisters

Reading Royals continued their dominance at the Swim England Artistic Swimming Junior and Senior National Championships 2023 – with a special moment for the Blinkhorn sisters.

The club from the South East secured the Free Duet title through Florence Blinkhorn and Lily Halasi, the winners of yesterday’s Technical Duet event.

It meant that the pair were awarded the Spencer Trophy, with Florence the third Blinkhorn sister to take home the award in the third consecutive championships.

She followed in the footsteps of her sisters Isobel, who won the trophy in 2019, and Eleanor, half of last year’s winning duet.

Head coach of Reading Royals, Kelly-Anne Russell, said: “All three sisters in the three years [that the trophy has been awarded] have had the duet trophy – it’s been Isobel Blinkhorn, then Eleanor Blinkhorn and now Florence Blinkhorn – so that’s really nice.”

Reading’s duo produced an outstanding swim to score 71.4333 and win the competition by nearly two points.

The silver and bronze medals also went to Reading for a clean sweep of the podium places.

Elena Smith-Fernandez and Holly Hughes were the silver medal winners, scoring 69.6667, which was made up of 21.0000 for execution, 27.8667 for artistic impression and 20.8000 for difficulty.

The final and youngest Reading duet on the podium was Beatrice Askar and Francesca Pringle, with Elizabeth Cox as a reserve. They scored 66.6000 overall.

Kelly-Anne added: “We’re so pleased to get a clean sweep in the duets.

“We weren’t expecting it and the girls were just so happy and it was so lovely to see. It was really nice how much they were supporting each other as well.

When asked what the secret was to coaching a podium full of successful duets, she said: “It’s down to a lot of hard work and actually, I don’t know – nearly all of our pools keep breaking on us at the moment!

“We’ve really struggled, but we keep regrouping and figuring out which pools we can use, where and how, and we’re always making sure that we can keep ticking over and training.”

Blinkhorn claims maiden Free Solo title

Florence wasn’t the only Blinkhorn sister to collect a trophy on the second day of action, as Eleanor clinched her first Free Solo title.

She finished on a score of 73.3667 and was awarded the Helen Elkington Trophy – becoming the first Reading Royals swimmer to take the trophy since Rhiannon Williams in 2012.

On the win, Eleanor said: “I think my swim went really well. I’m really proud with the progress I’ve made this year.

“My training programme with Reading Royals as well as Team GB has been really good for my development and I can’t wait to see how I develop in the future.”

Her routine displayed a great presence in the water and showcased excellent height. The score broke down into 21.8000 for execution, 29.4667 for artistic impression and 22.1000 for difficulty.

“It feels really good to win today. After a few years of missing out on a spot or two spots out on the trophy, I’m really happy to be taking that home,” she added.

Rugby claimed their second silver medal in as many days as Eve Young took the second spot on the podium with her West Side Story-inspired solo.

Her score of 70.5333 consisted of 20.7000 for execution, 28.1333 for artistic impression and 21.7000 for difficulty, edging out her competition by just 0.4.

Rounding off the podium was Reading Royals once again, as Florence Blinkhorn took the bronze medal.

She was the only other swimmer in the competition to break the 70-point barrier as she scored 70.1333 with a beautiful routine.

Golden glory for Aqualina

The Free Mixed Duet competition saw golden glory for Aqualina through Maxwell Sewell and Kiarra Janikova.

The pair were awarded an overall score of 57.2333 after earning 19.3000 for execution, 25.7333 for artistic impression and 19.2000 for difficulty.

All swimmers in the Free Solo and Free Duet competitions were awarded the junior and senior medals.

Story written by Jess Arnold.