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Sheffield and Southend shine at Swim England Diving National Skills Finals

Both City of Sheffield and Southend Diving Club’s shone at the Swim England Diving National Skills Finals 2023.

Southend had the quicker start, clinching four medals on the opening day compared to just the two won by City of Sheffield.

However, the Yorkshire-based club won a further five medals on day two of the competition to finish with the highest medal count with a total of seven.

Southend, having added a further two to their tally, were the club with the second highest number of medals and the home club, City of Leeds, were next with five medals in total.

Starry-eyed start

It was a starry-eyed beginning to the National Skills Finals, with Star Diving Club Guildford youngsters Libby Edelson and Lily Houzego taking the gold and silver medals in the Girls Group D1 event.

Both girls achieved more than 300 points. Also joining them on the podium and in the 300 club was Corby Steel diver, Hallie Cave.

Her fantastic poolside diving saw the only award of 10’s across the board.

There was more high scoring in the Girls Group D2 event, with all athletes on the podium racking up more than 300 points once again.

The gold medal was won by Southampton Diving Academy’s Emma Armstrong, with a total of 303.85 points.

It was a close finish for second and third, with silver going to City of Sheffield’s Amelia Cole (300.80) and bronze to Luton’s Violet Rhodes (300.35).

In the Girls Group C1, Luton were back on the podium and this time through Daisy Dwyer. Following her, to claim the first medal for City of Leeds, was Ella Coupland in the silver medal position.

The City of Steel rounded off the podium with a bronze for Sheffield Diving’s Antonella Sadiq.

The Girls Group C2 was all about the East region, with super success from Southend. Four of the top six were from the Essex-based club.

It was gold and silver for Regan Raffell and Heidi Duff respectively, but Luton diver Elodie Biggam prevented an all Southend podium after she secured the bronze medal.

The afternoon of day one saw the youngest and oldest boys taking to the boards, starting with the Boys Group E event.

Southend stayed on the top step with a championship performance from Blake Scroxton, who was again joined by a teammate on the podium.

This time it was in third place, with Beau Barry claiming bronze. But once again, the Southend whitewash was prevented, with Dive London’s Liam Wilson-Roberts taking silver.

The final event of the opening day was the Boys B+ where Max Goodwin of Dive London grabbed the gold.

Plymouth’s Louie Mccue sailed away with silver and City of a Bradford Esprit diver Edward Kelly bagged the bronze.

Dive London added to their tally

Connor Craydon of Dive London opened up the medals in the first event of day two, the Boys Group C1.

Craydon was followed by City of Leeds diver Dominic Emery in the silver medal position and Sebastian Surry of Southend won bronze.

The Boys Group C2 saw Sheffield taking two out of the three medal spots. Laurence Foster finished with bronze after being just beaten to silver by teammate, Felix Di Bona.

But the C2 title went to the other end of the country courtesy of Plymouth’s Alex Jones.

Next up was the Girls Group E event, with the youngest competitors of the National Skills Finals looking for victory.

The level of competition was staggering, but the real stand-out performance of the day was Flo Hall (321.65) from City of Leeds.

Hall won the event with nearly 20 points between her and the rest of the field. Along the way, she achieved a super individual dive score of 40 points for her forward 1 ½ somersaults from 1m.

Her closest rival was guest diver, Eva Gibb of Aberdeen, who finished on 303.50 and was awarded a commemorative silver medal.

Sienna Deakin secured another Southend silver while Holly Hewer of Southampton rounded off the podium for the English divers.

The South of England dominated the Boys Group D1 event, with gold going to Seth Greentree of Plymouth.

Silver was won by Southampton’s Hunter Mapstone and bronze went to Cai Tobin of South West London Diving Club.

However, the North reclaimed the spoils in the Boys Group D2, with all three English podium spots being filled by Yorkshire-based divers.

City of Leeds diver Brogann Gainfort took a comfortable victory – finishing more than 50 points ahead of his closest English competitor with a score of 308.25.

Silver went to Sheffield’s Isaac Beck and bronze to Seb Auld of Leeds. There was also commemorative silver and bronze medals awarded to Angus Macrae of Aberdeen and Edinburgh’s Bruno Nowicki respectively.

Day two finished off with the most popular event of the competition, having received the most entries, which was the Girls Group B+ event.

The girls worked hard to maintain their composure for nearly two hours of competition, with the spoils heading to Sheffield and Southampton.

Skye Loukes was crowned the Girls Group B+ champion. She executed an outstanding forward 2 ½ somersaults from 3m, which achieved a score of 50.60 – the highest scoring dive of the competition.

The bronze medal also went to Sheffield, with Lauren Robertson stepping onto the podium. Southampton split the Sheffield girls, with Kayla Seguns taking silver.

A commemorative bronze went to Edinburgh’s Layla Duke.

Robinson awarded Malcom Taylor trophy

In addition to their success on the medal table, City of Sheffield’s Rich Robinson was awarded the Malcom Taylor trophy.

The trophy is awarded annually to an individual that has shown great commitment and support for the sport of diving through volunteering at Swim England events.

Rich has volunteered at both Swim England Diving National Age Groups Championships and the Swim England Diving National Skills Finals, as well as a number of club and regional events throughout the year.

He is a dedicated recorder and technical support who has helped to ensure the smooth delivery of diving events.

Pictures: James Pickering

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