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England selectors take notice of super Sophie

A CONSISTENTLY improving swimmer from Thorp Academy has taken another splash towards representing her country and she can't stop smiling.

A CONSISTENTLY improving swimmer from Thorp Academy has taken another splash towards representing her country and she can’t stop smiling.

Sophie Robinson is a Year 8 student enrolled on the Elite Performer Programme at the Ryton-based secondary school because of her talent.

Sophie’s performances have been recognised nationally too having established herself as one of the best synchronised swimmers in the north for her age.

The 12-year-old is one of 15 swimmers in the North-East to form part of the Regional Performance Training. Previously the Beacon Squad, advised by England Synchro, it is one step away from representing her country.


Sophie said: “You go to the Beacon Games, made up of the best synchro swimmers in the North-East and North-West. It’s a great experience.

“When we join up with the squad we have an hour of land training, an hour in the classroom talking about how to improve diets and injury prevention, then we have an hour of something like Zumba or kick-boxing.

“After that we have three hours in the pool. It goes fast. I love it. You get to see all the country too because of the travelling around.”

To those who have seen how hard Sophie has worked her progress has come as no surprise. She was destined for that call-up having impressed while representing City of Leeds and Gateshead synchronised swimming clubs.

She ranks her biggest successes to date as the silver claimed with her partner in the duet at the Scottish Nationals. She also loved her performance at Multi-Regionals with Gateshead when she started fifth in figures – the slow part where you are marked - and came third in her solo.

Sophie, who turns 13 next month, said: “I have always really liked dance and swimming, so mixed together you can see why I like synchronised swimming.

“The coaches are really nice, they help you put in your best which is how I got into the Beacon Squad. The person who runs the Beacon, Rosie Barrington, is also a physio. She has a different way of teaching and I enjoy it.

“I have to go to the John Charles Centre for Sport, near Leeds’ football ground, on a weekend. As the year goes on that will be every Saturday and Sunday. There are some girls who go down and we share lifts. We are all friends.”

Synchronised swimming has been an Olympic sport since 1984 and eventually reaching that standard would be a dream come true for the former Greenside Primary pupil.

Sophie said: “I have always wanted to be in the Olympics since I started five years ago.

“It would be a lot of pressure but I have always wanted to get in the England Talent squad, which is one step below Team GB. The girl I beat in my first national was in the England Talent squad and I want to keep going.”

Sophie has finished “all 11 levels” in swimming and she still dances out of the pool as a hobbie, to help with her synchro in the pool.

She said: “I don’t dance in the exams or competitions, I just do it for fun. It does help me to interpret different kinds of music and improvise. If you forget a routine in the pool it can help you in a solo maybe not in a team event.”

Sophie thinks that being enrolled on the EPP at Thorp Academy is helping too, where she is receiving guidance from England discus thrower Alan Toward.

She said: “The Strength & Conditioning has been really helpful. Alan has given me some exercises and it helps with flexibility.

“Hopefully the sessions will help me this year. As well as the Beacon Squad training, with a residential in April, there will be competitions before and after the summer holidays.”