SYNCHRONISED SWIMMING: Sophie selected for GB senior squad

Sophie Randle
Sophie Randle
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Target now is the 2016 Olympics in Rio

Synchronised swimmer Sophie Randle has been selected to the Great Britain senior squad with her sights on the 2016 Olympics.

The 16-year-old is one of just nine girls who will now be training full time in Aldershot, beginning the long road towards qualifying for Rio de Janiero.

Her achievement is the result of years of dedication, working hard in and out of the pool six days a week, often at unsociable hours.

Sophie joined Rugby Swimming Club’s synchro section when she was ten, invited by head coach Hannah Dudley, who has coached her ever since. Sophie was already a speed swimmer with the club and enjoyed gymnastics and trampolining - three skills which combined perfectly to make her a talented synchro star.

She was UK National Champion at Under 12s level and first swam for England when she was 13 at Under 15s level.

Sophie’s Great Britain selection has been a long process, but after the final ten days of trials at Guildford last month, in front of the national performance director and senior coaches, she received the great news.

“I’m excited, but nervous about the long hours,” said Sophie, who will be expected to train up to 40 hours a week, with one day off for school. “We’re a young squad, the oldest is only 17 because most of the older ones left after London 2012, so we’re starting from scratch. Olympic qualification for synchro is really complicated, but that’s our goal.

“I enjoy synchro because it’s a combination of all the things I used to do when I was younger, there’s a lot of elements to it, and I’ve made some good friends.”

Successfully combining swimming with her education, the Rugby High School student has just been rewarded with 11 GCSEs, including seven A*s. She hopes to continue with A levels, as well as taking the Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence, which is aimed at elite athletes and will run alongside her training.

The sport has already taken Sophie to Crete, Italy and Croatia, where she won two golds with England.

Now she is looking forward to three weeks in Italy for a choreography camp, working with a choreographer from the Cirque du Soleil.

The team will be aiming for success at the World Junior Championships in Finland next year as well as the senior Europeans.

Sophie is grateful to everyone who has supported her in the last six years, including Rugby Swimming Club synchro coaches Hannah Dudley and Linda Peake, personal trainer Callum Hardingham, with whom she has had two sessions a week for the past two years and Rugby Borough Council.