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This one ‘even more special’ for Reading as they secure hat-trick of Redwood wins

Reading Royals retained the Redwood Trophy once again to conclude an immensely successful weekend at the Swim England Artistic Swimming National Junior and Senior Championships 2023.

They scored 72.5333 in the Free Team competition with their military-inspired routine to win the event by nearly five points.

Their combined total of 137.5494 placed them seven points clear of rivals Rugby Artistic Swimming Club in the race to the Redwood.

The win makes it three from three in terms of Redwood wins since 2019, missing out the years impacted by the pandemic.

Reading Royals head coach, Kelly-Anne Russell, was ‘over the moon’ after another strong year for the club at this competition.

She said: “To be honest, we didn’t know what to expect, so to have done it again is brilliant.

“We’ve worked really hard for it, so I’m really, really pleased that we’ve done it.

“It’s great to work with these swimmers on a daily basis. All of them are so competitive, they really want to achieve so they work really hard and just the fact that they listen to me, they take in all the corrections and coaching tips that I give them, use it and always try their best – and they really did today.

“I really noticed today that they thought ‘right, we really want this’ and they gave it their all.”

Great achievements with newer squad

On the huge celebrations as the results were announced, she added: “I think some of it is because we’ve got a new squad again.

“Every time you’ve got a new squad, there was only a few of them from last year, so you’re not sure and they’re not sure what result they’re going to get.

“Having a newer squad and still being able to achieve it, and for most of them that was the first time, it was great.

“It was probably even more special this time given all the challenges we’ve had and given the new rules and everything else, we just weren’t sure, so it was brilliant.”

Reading’s successful Free Team squad was made up of Tara Dakovic, Rebecca Saunders, Lily Halasi, Florence Blinkhorn, Cara Zeidler, Holly Hughes, Sofija Dakovic and Elena Smith-Fernadez, with Beatrice Askar in reserve.

The 72.5333 total was broken down into 21.7000 for execution, 28.9333 for artistic impression and 21.9000 for difficulty.

Rugby Artistic Swimming Club added to their medal tally for the weekend with another silver medal, scoring 67.9000 with a routine that contained some impressive acrobatics.

The swimmers were: Charlotte Putt, Eve Young, India Townsend, Jadine Carroll, Lola Dudkowsky, Matilda John, Olivia Tyers and Poppy Williams, with Bethany Clarke and Josephine Mozley in reserve.

Taking the bronze medal and stepping onto the podium for the first time across the weekend were City of Salford.

They put in a strong swim to rightfully earn their podium spot. The team was made up of Abby Foster, Amy Outram, Francesca-Lily Derbyshire, Gabriella Jackson, Lotti Horsman, Olivia Dickinson, Sophie Flemming and Sophie Rowney, with Ailsa Fox and Caitlyn Brook as the reserves.

They scored 66.3333, breaking down into 19.5000 for execution, 26.9333 for artistic impression and 19.9000 for difficulty.

Florence Blinkhorn wins the Holland Trophy

Florence Blinkhorn concluded an incredible competition by winning the Holland Trophy, which is awarded to the swimmer with the highest overall score in Free Solo, Free Duet, Tech Team and Free Team.

She added this to the Spencer Trophy won earlier in day two of the competition, after taking the Free Duet title with partner Lily Halasi.

On her performances and her club winning the Redwood Trophy, she said: “I’m really happy because I had no idea that we were going to get the Redwood Trophy again.

“We just worked so hard for this and we’re so proud that we got it.

“I felt really proud of my performances because I knew that it was going to be a hard couple of days and I’m really proud that I got through it while getting some really good results.”