Rugby’s Sophie Randle will represent Great Britain at next month’s European Swimming Championships, to be held in Berlin.
The synchronised swimmer, who is now 17, has been a member of Rugby Swimming Club’s Synchro section since she was 10 years old and this latest selection marks the highlight of her career to date.
It has been a turbulent few months for Randle and the whole sport of synchronised swimming.
Initially awarded a four-year development grant of £4.3m to maintain the significant ‘world-standard’ improvement achieved at London 2012, the sport was rocked when UK Sport unexpectedly withdrew their financial backing in January.
The squad have had to prepare for Berlin against a back-drop of limited resources and uncertainty.
Randle, who previously made the choice to re-locate and train full-time within the funded programme, said: “At times it has been difficult.
“But as the Euros get closer the focus and determination to do well takes over”.
She now starts a four-week training camp in Aldershot as her preparation for Berlin intensifies.
However, the squad do so without the guidance of their previous full-time leadership team of three experienced coaches – all released as part of the funding cuts.
Randle continued: “I have been lucky to work alongside some great coaches, support staff and swimmers within Team GB.
“If this is our last major international event for a while then it should be a fantastic experience to end on.”
Rugby Synchro head coach Hannah Secher added: “We are so proud of Sophie who is a great role-model for our club.
“Sophie had great potential and has coupled that with hard work and dedication.
“It is fantastic to see her make that transition to the highest level.”
This weekend Rugby Synchro is holding the first in a series of free, open sessions for new synchro swimmers to come along and try sport.
The first session is between 4pm and 5pm on Sunday at Rugby School’s swimming pool. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for information.