Reading Royals

Through the Year 1986

Southern Counties Age Groups   -  Bracknell,  12th April & St Georges, 10th May

10 & under   

Samantha Luckett      -       Solo, Figures


Diana Singh                -       Duet

Naomi Taylor                      Solo, Duet


Louise Rutter              -       Figures, Solo, Duet

Jo Svensen                           Duet


Emma Clark               -        Figures, Solo, Duet

Sarah Northey            -       Duet, Figures, Solo

Joanne Luckett           -       Figures, Solo, Duet

Susie Vockins             -       Figures,

Victoria Maybury       -       Figures, Solo

Vicky Elson                 -       Silver

17 & over

Joanne Seeburg          -       Figures, Solo, Duet

Samantha Allen                  Figures,Duet

Andrea Hughes                  Solo, Figures

Nicola Wilson                      Solo,Figures

Sara Hartley                        Duet

Rebekah Taylor           -       Solo, Duet


12 & under   -    Reading 'A'

13/14yrs      -   Reading

15/16yrs       -   Reading

17 & over      -   Reading

England Age Group - Madrid, 10-18th May

The Age Group Squad travelled to Madris for the II San Isidro Open.

The 9 strong team included 4 Reading Royal swimmers.


Louise is a member of Reading Royals, where she is coached by Jenny Gray and Andrea Holland. She is the current Southern Couniies 13/14 Solo Figure champion and together with Julia Svensen, Duet champion. Louise and Julia were also the Under-12 National Duet champions in 1984 Her current ambition is to swim solo, duet and team in next year's Age Group team.


Lindsay is a member of Reading Royals and was reserve for the England Age Group team. She started synchro after seeing a

Christmas show and, as she says, it all happened from there.She now trains about 13 hours a week and is coached by Jenny Gray and her mother Jenny Smith.Her ambition is to live a healthy life! ln her spare time Lindsay enjoys football, cookery and music.


Vicky is a member of Reading Royals and is coached by

Jennifer Gray for figures and by her sister Alison for routines.She was unfortunate in not being selected for the squad in 1985 when an accident during the event prevented her from swimming her solo. She trains most days of the week and in

her spare time walks her dog Solo.


Jo is a member of Reading Royals, where she is coached byAndrea Holland. She started synchro when she was 7 because her mother took her! Jo was 3rd in last year's 13,/14 National

Age Group Solo championship and together with Sarah

Northey, took the duet title. She won 12 gold medals while a member of the Reading Royals U/12team. She hopes on eday to represent G.B. in the Olympics and win.

"That evening Shelagh, Shirley and the judges went to a banquet, so l was left incharge; and we dutifully did a lot of walkthroughs, even though we were interrupted several times by passers-by stopping to watch us and asking what we were doing! Not that we minded.

It was then time for the team, and everyone was getting just a bit nervous, even Shelagh. But in the end, the team swam very well and we got high marks - but were just pipped by France, who swam a very well synchronised team and deserved to win.

We then all took our hair down and started to eat our dinners, only to find a couple of hours later that we had to swim in the display. So back we went to the changing rooms to put our hair back up! At the party after we had some things, I don't know what they were, to eatl And we also had a go at drinking sangria out of a vinegar pot, and some of us seemed to have got the knack!"

Team medals for a second behind France


"We returned to the hotel, by which we seemed to take a long cut. After lunch we went to our rooms for a little while, before going back to the pool for training - this time on the team.  The team didn't go too well according to Shelagh, and everyone was making 'silly mistakes' and we were told to pull our 'socks up'. After doing the team routine a couple of times more, and more figure practices, we got out, blue in the face, and had a nice warm shower. We then returned to the hotel for a gorgeous meal - which nobody ate! Before going to bed we walked through the team for about an hour, under the strict eye of Shelagh!"

During the last several months, especially the time in Madrid, I think all of the team made newfriends, and enjoyed themselves a lot. So I would just like to thank Shelagh for all her hard work and help; Shirley forlooking after us; the two judges, Pat and Lorraine, for coming with us and helping us; and Mr Machin, who gave up so much time to help us on our figures; and I hope they enjoyed themselves as much as we did ! Thanks." JO LUCKETT

"Arrived at Heathrow Park Hotel where we were going to be issued with additional items to take away with us. The speed swimmers were given their full 'kit' but unfortunately we were not given the GB training costumes that we had been promised, so we only had one wearable costume for 10 days swimming

On the way to training everyone searched for a McDonalds.

The pool was so cold that during our three-hour training session we kept

having to run out every half-an-hour for a hot shower.

First member of the team injured (Jo's hip).

We met some of the other teams at the hotel - the French had masses of team clothing which we were all anxious to swap at a later date. (They weren't so keen !)Second member of team injured (Vicky's earache).

Third member of the team ill(Angela)

It poured with rain all day. Sam was the only sensible person brave enough to wear her plastic wet suit trousers everyone in the town must have thought she looked really mega-trendy, because they couldn't stop staring at her!

The day of the figure competition.The physiotherapist came with us to soothe away all the aches and Pains incurred from contorting our bodies into weird positions. She had not realised before just how supple synchro

swimmers have to be. The Russians showed this perfectly by doing back

bends and holding 'crab' positions on the land endlessly just to warm up.

4th member of the team ill (me).

Jo Preston's hip had been hurting all week, but after swimming the team she was in such agony that she couldn't move, so the doctor was called. lt was then diagnosed that she had suspected appendicitis and she was rushed to the British Military Hospital where herappendix was removed soon afterwards."  SOPHIE LLOYD - Team Captain


Back Row, left to right: Vicky Elson, Maria Erraught, Angela Davenport,Katie Wishart, Jo Seeburg.

Front row, l-r: Jo Preston, Sue Richards, Sophie Loyd, Sarah Northey, Sam Allen'

Four Reading Royals travelled to West Berlin for the competition. Jo Seeburgh ranked 5th in the solos and Samantha Allen (with Joanne Preston) and Sarah Northey (with Angela Davenport) finished 9th and 10th respectively in the duets. The three with Vicky Elson also swam Team (6th)

Junior European Championships, (West) Berlin, July 24-27

There were incidentally medals in Odense for the England squad.

The team won Gold as did the duet of  Jo Preston and Samantha Allen (far right)

GB Juniors included 4 x RR swimmers.


Image: Jo Seeburg

XIII Commonwealth Games - Edinburgh 25th-28th July

Back to the Synchro event and some views of proceedings -

"It was with very mixed feelings that I flew to Edinburgh.'A feeling of tremendous sadness that the Games had been used in a political fashion and this meant that not all the competitors would be there."

"I felt sadness in the fact that synchro had obviously been treated not too seriously by many countries and even those who had eligable swimmers would not be represented."

"The Commonwealth Pool was packed with people anticipating routines. They were sadly disappointed. The competition, with only 11 competitors, was held in the silence of a large competition. The marks were given, but no other explanation was given and a lot of very disgruntled people left before the end.

ln the evening, the solo preliminaries were held. Yes,preliminaries. Five solos and preliminaries were held!

The standard of competition though was very high. The winner, Sylvie Franchette, was fantastic. She showed height, strength and power - and she made it all look effortless. Her flexibility was just perfection. Her splits had to be seen to be believed'  She left me with a tingling feeling and made me feel as though she was swimming just for me.

England won silvers in the Solo (Amanda Dodd)and Duet (Dodd & Nicki Shearn) but as you might expect images are thin on the ground these days.

It was only a pity the audience had not returned to see it all. The session was included in the price of the swimming

tickets and these were all sold. As a gentleman sitting next to me said: what a way to run a railway! The FINA officials enjoying a cocktail party close to the diving area showed their interest in the sport by requesting the music to beturned down. How can we ever win!

During the Figures a new figure was created, a Triple Spiral. Yes, one swimmer - mentioning no names - decided that two twists were not enoughand performed three. She scored between 6-7 1/2. A very interesting point for the referees course.

Synchro has arrived in the Commonwealth and hopefully it will stay, but I firmly believe there must be great

improvements if it is to stay. lt must be sold to the audience, it must be seen to be far more efficiently run and it cannot risk being seen to be something different, the very

thing other sporting officials and press have been saying for years. We must prove it is a sport, a worthwhile sport and

that we have as much right to be there as any other sport.

I must congratulate Scotland and in particular Mary Black in getting synchro included in the Games."

  Getty Images:

  Sylvie Franchette

There were no RR swimmers in the England or Scotland teams took part in the synchro but there was reflection a plenty on what was anyway a contraversial event because of the boycott due to the UK government's at-the-time sporting policy with South Africa. On lighter matters.....the trend on having animals included in the parade continued with dog handlers and a Scottish terrier accompanying each team into the stadium. This tied in nicely with the Games' mascot "Mac".

GB Seniors flew a full squad to Madrid and swam Solo, Duet and team finishing 8th, 5th and 9th respectively. Joanne Seeburg was the only (and  youngest) RR member of the team.

          Team Prep

Results - courtesy Kallipolis

And room enough just for a quote or two from captain Ali Garratt's at-the-time report -

We used a third pool in a seperate complex and it was as cold as ice. Tracy said: "It'll freeze our eyeballs off if we don't use goggles."  It was a good excuse don't you think?

In the team prelims, we swam the best we'd ever swum (after a few hiccups in training). Unfortunately the lift we performed at the end didn't come off. Jo waved a leg at the audience instead of her arm !It meant we didn't make the final for the first time in quite a few years.

Amanda Dodd/Nikki Shearn

V World Championships - Madrid,  15-24th August

Venue: Central Baths


12 & under

Naomi Taylor      -    10th


Julia Svensen     -       7th

Louise Rutter


Emma Clark        -      Gold

Sarah Northey    -      Silver

Victoria Elson, Joanne Luckett, Susie Vockins



Louise Rutter      -    4th

Julia Svensen


Sarah Northey    -    Gold

Emma Clark         -   Silver

Victoria Elson



Diana Singh & Naomi Taylor  -    Silver


Louise Rutter & Julia Svensen  -    Gold


Joanne Luckett & Sarah Northey  -    Gold

Emma Clark & Alison Maybury      -    Silver

Vicky Elson & Susie Vockins            -   Bronze

       Louise Rutter &

       Julia Svensen

        Sarah Northey

National Age Groups, Southampton -27/28th September


12& under   -   Reading   -   Silver

13/14yrs     -   Reading   -   Bronze

15/16yrs     -   Reading   -   Gold

Clubs competing. BristolCentral SC, Barnet Copthall SC

Bedtord SC, Brent Flamingoes,Branrston Concordes SSC

Exeter SSC, Hounslow Boro SS, Calderdale SSc

Portsmouth Victoria SC,Rushmoor SSC,Reading Royals SSC

Sale SC, Sevmour SSS,Troutbeck Brrdge SC, Walsall SSC

Duet (Spencer Trophy)

J.Seeburgh/S.Allen           -              Silver

S.Northey/J Luckett          -              Bronze

E.Clark/A. Maybury


Team (Redwood Trophy)

Reading Royals                    -                Silver


Joanne Seeburg       -          7th

Samantha Allen, Sally Manning, Sarah Northey

Solo (Helen Elkington Trophy)

Joanne Seeburgh     -            Bronze

Sarah Northey, Sally Manning, Samantha Allen

ASA National Champs  - Sharston Pool, Manchester - 1st November

Gallery & other things


"Reading Royals produced a very 'professional' entertaining version of Desert lsland Discs, with Dave Elson as the castaway. The show was very ambitious and included all their winning team routines together withvery well choreographed routines for up to 50 swimmers. These were not the usual swim routines, but difficult teams.


Congratulations to all the choreographers and the swimmers for an excellent show. Special mention must be made of the routine choreographed by Jean Allen, who combined difficult synchro skills together with a team of fathers to give a very original production. I thought one or two of the dads might need resuscitation before the end and l was in trouble for not recognising the difference between a ballet leg and an oyster, but they allobviously enjoyed it, as did the audience. lt added to make one of the best synchro shows I have seen in a long time."


JO SEEBURG -  on a lift for GB Seniors at the Europa Cup 'A' The Hague, Holland 22nd/26th May.



(2nd Place overall)


SARAH NORTHEY - junior solo winner

Not quite sure of the provenance of this one. Copy appeared in Synchro World in anticipation of the competition, but presumably taken at an earlier event.

Image: Vicky Elson

SYNCHRO WORLD INTER-CLUB INVITATIONAL - Held at Stetchford Pool, Birmingham  5th MAY


Sports Desk

September 2, 1986

Dear Mrs Evans,

Thank you for your interesting letter

and I apologise for the delay in replying.

Unfortunately, we are not going to

agree about synchronised swimming. Of

course, I appreciate the dedication and

athleticism of the people involved, but I

honestly feel that the end result is absurd.

Sadly, I could not survive a two-hour

training session with the swimmers any

more than they could meet a deadline

with a l500-word article. I wish them all

well, and particularly your daughter, but

I'm afraid I cannot be convincedthat what

they are doing has very much in common

with serious sport.

Thank you again for writing and I hope

you will accept the sincerity - if not the

validity - of my views.

Yours sincerely,

Patrick Collins.


British Broadcasting Corporation

7th August 1986

Dear Mrs Evans,

I would no sooner undergo 2 hours

training at synchronised swimming than

2 hours sparring with Frank Bruno.

Although your sport mrcses me, I have

never denied that it takes brilliant

athleticism to excel at it. Long may you

continue to enjoy it, I will continue to be

amused by it.

Yours sincerely,

K. McKeog

pp Desmond Lynam,

P r es enter, G r an dst an d.



7th August 1986

Dear Mrs Evans,

Thank you for your letter aboutsynchronised swimming.I agree with many of the points you make - and I can only refer you to the

item we used on Central Sport on Thursday July I7th which featured Walsall Synchronised Swimming Club and the captain of the British team.

This in no way ridiculed the sport.Rather we set out to show the amount of hard training and specialised swimming skills needed to participate in synchronised swimming.

I can only think that the comments in your letter were generated by some media reaction to the event at the Commonwealth Games.

With best wishes,

Yours sincerely,

Jeff Farmer

Canadian Solo and Duet World Chamions 1986 - courtesy of gettyimages

Synchro's introduction into the Commonwealth Games received something of  a mixed response. Some put pen to paper in defence and these were some of the replies:-