Reading Royals History

In the late sixties, Maurice and Joyce Mullen from Camberley took their daughter Jackie regularly to the Metropolitan Club in London to learn synchro.  Maurice worked with George and eventually became a top coach and judge.  In time the Mullens became frustrated with the journey to London and decided a club was needed locally.  George Rackham introduced them to Anne Dudding, who at the time was a swimming coach at Central Pool, Reading.  Between them they developed the idea of a club in Reading and adevertisied for members.  Jackie Mullen was the first member, followed by Kim Beat, whose father Captain Beat became the club's first chairman.

The first session of the new Reading club was held at Arthur Hill Pool on Sunday, 14th September 1969 and was opened by Jenny Robb a GB swimmer from the Metropolitan Diving Club and is now better know to all of us as Jenny Gray.


At first the club was just called Reading Synchronised Swimming Club, but this was altered in October 1970 by popular vote to include 'Royals' (before the football team adopted it).

In time courses were run for younger swimmers and a junior section was started, which in fact meant beginners.  Girls had to be 11 to join the club, a far cry from the 4 year olds we now share our sport with.  The first 'junior' member was Heather Reeve who later became club captain and her father Arthur served a long period as club treasurer, secretary and coaching co-ordinator.

Early members of the club included the Holland family and the Coxes all of whom came to play a big role int he British success in the sport in those early years.  They all had some previous connections with other synchro clubs and the rapid development of the club owed much to the synchro knowledge brought by Maurice Mullen, the experience of Anne Dudding as a swimming coach and Brenda Holland's choreography ideas brought from he world of dance.

The initial club program of activities included many displays, some of which were fairly theatrical in nature and as we know the sport now requires much more from the athletes and so today's program is geared to improving fitness, flexibility as well as the technical and artistic skills of the sport.  The first Christmas Show was held in 1970 and the aim then was the same as now to include all club athletes and to raise funds for the club.

                                                  1970                                              1971 Christmas Show "Winter Cruise"

In 1973 the club achieved its first success in an inter completion.  Jackie Mullen and Andrea Holland winning solo medals, Lorraine Carcas and Jackie Sim winning duet medal and team, called 'Green Leaves' the first A-Team, won the gold. 

                                                                     First A Team 1973 - Green Leaves

1974 was our first entry into the National Competition and three silvers were won including the team choreographed by Brenda Holland.  Until the Nations had been dominated by the Seymour Club.  In the first National Championship in 1975 the success continued the Royals won gold in solo, duet and team and repeated this for the next three years.

                                                                                    A Team 1975
On the international front many Royals athletes were in the national squad and some reached great heights.  Jane Holland became European sole and duet champion in 1974 and was 4th in the World Championships in 1975.  In 1977 Jackie Cox became the European solo and duet champion and 4th in solo and duet ant the 1978 World Championships, her duet partner for these events was Royals Andrea Holland.  Other key memebers of the national squads in the seventies were Kay Spencer and Philipa Sutton.



                                          A-team 1978 - with Linda Mahon-Daly, Philippa Sutton, Diane Anderson, Diana                                                                                          Wallace, Andrea Holland, Heather Rothery and Sarah Gilmore.


                                                                                             A Team 1979

                                                                                            A Team 1980

In the eighties the club hit dizzy heights again winning the Redwood Trophy in 1987 and 1989, many athletes represented the club at all levels England Age Group, Junior and Senior and this continues today.  Jo Jones (nee Seeburg) competed at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and Sarah Beasley (nee Northey) competed at the Commonwealth Games winning a silver medal in the duet with Kerry Shacklock from Rushmoor.
The next decade was dominated by the Hoopers and again many athletes competed internationally until funding for the sport was reduced towards the end of the nineties.  

                                                                                   A Team 1996

Katie Hooper and Kelly-Anne Russell (nee Wise) dominated all the way through their age group competions winning the top spots all the way.  Katie competed at the Commonwealth Games in 1998 wining bronze in duet and again in 2002 moving up a place to win silver in the duet with Gayle Adamson from Gateshead.                                                 

Until the recent rise of GB Katie was one of the last to compete at Senior World level in 1998 when GB then broke from senior competition until the arrival of Biz Price in 2007. In 1999 the Royals won all the events at the National Championship, Junior events by Jo Hooper with the help of Claire Diffin (nee Butler) in the duet, Senior events by Katie Hooper with partner Kelly-Anne and team choreographed by Kim-Lin Hooper.            
                                                                                                                                                                         1998 A Team

                                                                                           1999 A Team
                                                                                                A Team 2001
The new millenium started well retaining the Redwood Trophy and senior titles at the hands of the Hoopers.  We continued to have athletes in national squads when there was funding and when the High Performance Centre was set up in 2007 three athletes made it into the first full-time training centre, Katie Skelton, Jazmine Stansbury and Helen Morris.  The new funding also saw the return of the junior squad and development squads and Royals had representatives in these squads. 

From the results of the December 2010 National Age Group Synchronised Swimming Championships, 16 athletes were selected aged 13-15, to attend the England Talent Development Squad Trials in February at Crystal Palace. In June the top 10 athletes were selected to the Primorje Synchro Cup in Croatia. Reading girls were Jade Hearmon, Lucy Farrell and Natalie Saudan.

The rise of our next star Katie Clark started and in 2009 she competed at all three levels, Age Group, Junior and Senior and now continues to train full time towards 2012. 

The National Championships changed to the British Championships and we continued to win team medals and in 2009 Jenny Godding, Naomi Schorman and Harriet Roberts became the Duet Champions. 

At Age Group level the club continued to win medals in all events for all age groups.

2012 was a big sporting year with the Olympics coming to London.  It started with synchro being thrown into the limelight care of Aquabitix's entry into Britian's Got Talent and Royals Jazmine Stanbury was one of the four girl team, they made it to the final and it was good to see synchro seen in a new way.

At the British Champs the Royals took top spots in the solo (Rhiannon Williams) and duet (Rhiannon and Sophie Usher) along with Rhiannon winning the overal trophy.  Lily Ryan made her international debut as part of the England Talent 13-15 Squad and came home with a bronze for figures and gold in team.  

Then came the summer: Katie Clark and Katie Skelton both competed as part of TeamGB swimming in both the tech and free teams and everyone involved in the club got right behind them and the rest of the squad soaking up the Olympic Spirit.  We had 12 Gamesmakers, a commentator, an official and Fina Delegate also taking part in the events and the club is very proud of them all


The story continues.....on our "Thru the Years pages. Reading Royals continues to have swimmer representation in England and GB squads most years including at World Championships and indeed the Rio Olympics in 2016...

                                                                                         Thru the Years



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