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Walsall, Reading and Rushmoor all win gold in first virtual national championships

Walsall, Reading Royals and Rushmoor artistic swimming clubs all won gold at the first-ever virtual Swim England Artistic Swimming National Junior and Senior Championships.

Despite a different format to the competitions held over previous years, with clubs performing their routines at their own pools and submitting footage to be scored, all athletes were up to the challenge and put on some sensational displays.

The Technical Solo event saw Walsall’s Robyn Swatman finish on top of the podium with a routine score of 74.1997.

Swatman admitted that being part of the Great Britain team competing at the LEN European Junior Championships in Malta earlier this year has helped her improve on her elements within her routines.

This was reflected in her scores as she managed a total of 21.9000 for execution, 22.8000 for artistic impression and 29.4997 for elements.

In the silver medal position was Reading’s Eleanor Blinkhorn, who scored a routine score of 69.4661, followed by Salford’s Aimee Lawrence in third with 66.4306.

Inspirational performance

Although she had a shorter preparation for her routine, Swatman was still happy with her performance, saying: “I managed to choreograph my own routine with the help of my coach so that was really good.

“The music is obviously ‘rise up’ and after this whole year – everyone’s struggled and it’s quite inspirational, so I just really liked the music and I thought it went really nicely.”

Discussing how competing for GB has helped her, she added: “It’s definitely better, because I’ve had a lot of work on the elements.

“Obviously I focused on the elements, but I was able to focus on the other aspects on the routine as well because I’ve had quite a lot of training in the elements sector.

“I definitely think I can add to [the routine] and make it harder because with the small amount of time I’ve had, I’ve had to simplify it in a sense to make sure that it looked presentable and it looked good.

“So to have more practice with it and obviously as I get fitter with the routine, I can add more into it and I can make it more difficult and improve on my heights as well.”

Duet gold for Walsall

Swatman then teamed up with Olivia Baker in the Technical Duet event to add another gold to Walsall’s tally.

The pair have been swimming together since the age of 10 and their scores of 20.9000 for execution, 21.6000 for artistic impression and 26.8882 for elements resulted in an overall routine score of 69.3882.

A routine score of 68.2086 saw the City of Bristol pairing of Anna Sledge and Cerys Hughes finish just 1.1796 behind to take second place.

Reading were also in the podium places yet again as Alyssa Basinger and Rosie Rallings took bronze with 66.1344.

After their win, Baker said: “We thought because it’s a really fast routine and we wanted a challenge because we knew the difficulty would be high, we wanted to change it from a free to a tech duet.

“Robyn’s helped me with the elements and the finer details, so she’s helped me with different sculling techniques.”

When asked what makes a good partnership, Swatman added: “The friendship really.

“Olivia’s my best friend and I think it helps to have a really good connection with your duet partner.

“It’s like dancing – if you don’t have a connection with each other then you can’t feel each other and feel how each other work.”

Rushmoor’s Ranjuo Tomblin and Maria Smith Fernandez were the gold medal winners in the Technical Mixed Duet competition.

Their routine score of 59.5116 was broken down into 18.4000 for execution, 18.5000 for artistic impression and 22.6116 for elements.

Tomblin said: “We started in late July once I got back from Malta so we didn’t have that much time to train.

“But I think it turned out pretty well. I think we could have swam it a bit better but we had what we had.

“I think we’ll definitely be looking at more top class mixed duets so we can really improve our scores.”

Fernandez added: “For this competition, we were thinking more just do the best that we can and we’re aiming more for next year to really work on it and improve.”

Reading Royals Technical Team success

Reading Royals had their sights set on gold in the Technical Team event and didn’t disappoint as they finished on top of the podium.

They revealed that their routine was originally planned for the 2020 National Artistic Swimming Junior and Senior Championships before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Reading claimed gold in this event at the 2019 championships, and were aiming to pick up where they left off.

The team, made up of Basinger, Rallings, Cerys Larsen, Daisy Gunn, Eleanor Blinkhorn, Isobel Blinkhorn, Laura Turberville and Tara Dakovic, achieved a routine score of 69.8799.

For each sector this was a total of 21.1000 for execution, 21.4000 for artisitc impression and 27.3799 for elements.

The Leeds team of Darcy Irwin, Eleanor Crabtree, Isobel Davies, Millicent Costello, Niamh Cooper, Olivia Burton, Rosie Barrington and Tilly Budd finished second with 65.7799.

In third, with a score of 64.4591, were Salford’s Aimee Lawrence, Alicia Cox, Ellie Alder, Lauren Redfern, Libby Taylor, Pridence Hubbard, Rhiannon Woodhouse and Zoe Taylor.

High level of training

Reading’s Larsen said: “Our aim was to win the competition, so that was always the goal we had in mind and we worked with our coach Kelly who is amazing. She choreographs routines and coaches them as well, and we worked together.

“We were really focused in trying to make a very impressive routine artistically and also technically because obviously that’s the combination in the technical routine to get those two aspects.

“We did a lot of work on our elements both at club and then individually and some of us train with the GB squad as well so we had quite a high level of training in that respect.”

Dakovic added: “I think when we first all got back in we had to get our stamina back up in the pool, so we had to work on that a lot and we still have carried that on so we’ve got good stamina on a regular basis.

“Then going back to basics, just making sure we get our vertical lines and everything so we can put that into the routine and make sure we get the basics right as well as the harder stuff.”

Full results

Event 1 - Technical Solo

RankNameClubRoutine Score
1Robyn SwatmanWalsall74.1997
2Eleanor BlinkhornReading Royals69.4661
3Aimee LawrenceSalford66.4306
4Isobel DaviesCity of Leeds66.1300
5Tara DakovicReading Royals64.3882
6Evie WalkerStockport Metro64.2802
7Millie CostelloCity of Leeds63.0388
8Tilly BuddCity of Leeds61.4975
9Beatrice CrassReading Royals60.6989
10Bethany ThomasNairn60.3554
11Prudence HubbardSalford59.9975
12Tegan SmithCity of Birmingham58.9140
13Niamh PeakmanEdinburgh58.8185
14Corin MacDonaldNairn56.8196
15Jekaterina ZeddamRushmoor55.6039
16Sophie RobinsonGateshead54.2675
17Zoe ParnhamAqualina54.1242
18Lucy ClanfieldRushmoor53.3928
19Marie Ange-SiegfriedCity of Birmingham52.9774
20Risa DarcyRushmoor49.6587
21Eloise SewellAqualina49.3281
22Anna ClemmetsonGateshead44.9355
23Eloise Heathcote-SharifAqualina42.9939

Download the full Technical Solo results (PDF)

Event 2 - Technical Duet

RankNameClubRoutine Score
2Sledge/HughesCity of Bristol68.2086
3Bassinger/RallingsReading Royals66.1344
4Brown/SaundersReading Royals65.6113
7Razzell/GidneyReading Royals63.1129
9Walker/JonesStockport Metro58.4699
10Smith/TaylorCity of Birmingham58.3817
14Hewston/SiegfriedCity of Birmingham54.4527
16Cotgreave/IvoryCity of Birmingham51.5167

Download the full Technical Duet results (PDF)

Event 3 - Technical Mixed Duet

RankNameClubRoutine Score

Download the full Technical Mixed Duet results (PDF)

Event 4 - Technical Team

RankNameClubRoutine Score
1Team 1Reading Royals69.8799
2Team 1Leeds65.7799
3Team 1Salford64.4591
4Team 1Walsall61.7157
5Team 2Reading Royals61.0889
6Team 1Rushmoor60.8864
7Team 1Rugby60.0436
8Team 2Salford 58.3051
9Team 2Rugby57.0163
10Team 1Edinburgh53.8033
11Team 1Stockport Metro50.9778
12Team 2Aqualina49.6119
13Team 1Aqualina45.7764

Download the full Technical Team results (PDF)