Rushmoor Synchro History
The Club was originally founded in 1966 at the Command Baths, Aldershot. Founder members included Barbara Firmin, the late Mike Firmin, the late Edna Russell and the late Tom Kennedy and it was called the Queens Parade Life Saving and Synchronised Swimming Club.
The Chief Instructor, Mr Tom Kennedy, at the Aldershot Command Baths, who had seen a Canadian teacher on an exchange visit practicing in the pool, renamed Rushmoor Synchronised Swimming Club in 1967. Inspired by it he quickly had a small group of enthusiastic girls ready to give it a try. Over the years the group swelled as more and more girls became interested in the sport, but before joining they had to be able to pass a rigorous swimming test (nothing changes).
In 1966 the music was played on records, and it was considered very progressive when the Club invested in a "reel to reel" player! The music in those early days usually consisted of one piece only, and lasted three to four minutes, although one swimmer asked for her record to be stopped after exactly two minutes and 43 seconds.
Money for the first set of music equipment was raised by means of a weekly raffle for a cake, with Mums taking it in turns to bake the cake. Eventually £25 was raised to buy the first music equipment. Tony Clarke was the first music man and he later went on to build the music equipment nicknamed “The Coffin” (we hope it was from the shape of it rather than its possible lethal consequences). Our music equipment was used for the first National Championships held in London in 1969. Afterwards, San Francisco Merionettes gave a display, but this caused problems for the music equipment as the tape was too big for it. Mike Firmin came to the rescue by holding a pencil on which the tape was run while it went through the machine and then later rewound the tape by hand.
Many amusing incidents occurred in the early days. In the "Ride of the Valkeries", a hosepipe was used to help keep the headdresses in shape; unfortunately they had a habit of filling up with water so when the girls surfaced they looked like spouting whales.
The original costume for the “Yellow Bird” routine (Jane Holland) had long sleeves and layers of lace which looked beautiful, but as soon as it got wet the swimmer sank and had to be rescued. FINA has since changed the rules and the length of the costume, feathers and current fashion would never allow this.
We have given exhibitions at the "House of Commons and Lords" Galas, swum exhibitions at home and abroad to raise money for the British Heart Foundation and joined in many Carnivals. The Club has frequently appeared on T.V. e.g. The Two Ronnies and Blue Peter (The BBC actually made 'Cowgirl' costumes especially for the swimmers). In recent years our girls have swum in the some of the following television programmes: Sky T.V. for DJ Kat Show, Girls Just want to Have Fun, Dancers Body and A League of their Own; BBC 1 for Jim'll Fix It, ITV for The Disney Club and Big Breakfast; Channel 4 for Blue Peter, How do they Do That and Generation Game; Utterly Butterly advertisement; BBC 2 in the film "Genghis Cohen" starring Diana Rigg and Robert Lindsey and the film “Love Labours Lost” to name but a few from the past. We have also appeared in ads for magazine “Wired” featuring underwater mp3 players. Recently, one of our former swimmers appeared on the very popular Britain’s Got Talent. Emily Kuhl appeared with three other swimmers as Aquabatique – getting all the way to the live final!
In 1971, the Club opened the Guildford Sports Centre with a display in front of Princess Anne, earning them the distinction at one time of being the only Synchronised Swimming Club in the country to perform before a member of the Royal Family, although it has yet to receive its "By Royal Appointment" badges!!!
On the financial side the first balance sheet revealed an income of £26/0/8d, with an excess of expenditure over income of 19s/8d.
Synchronised Swimming became an Olympic Sport at the 23rd Olympiad in Los Angeles in August 1984 and our Carolyn MacDonald (nee Wilson) was chosen as one of the three Synchro Representatives from Great Britain. Carolyn, along with Caroline Holmyard of Bristol was selected to swim the Duet, with the reserve being Amanda Dodd, also from Rushmoor. Carolyn was the European Champion three times.
At the Commonwealth Games in New Zealand 1990, Kerry Shacklock won a Silver Medal in the Solo Competition and in 1994 again won the Silver Medal in the Solo Competition, and the Silver Medal in the Duet Competition with Laila Vakil.
Adele Carlsen won Bronze duet competition in the 1996 Commonwealth Games and in 2002 Kerry Hussey was one of the three swimmers at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
In Salerno, Italy, in 1991 Laila Vakil became the Worlds' Junior Figure Champion and won Silver medal in the Solo event, and furthermore is the only British Synchro Swimmer to win a medal in a World Championship.
Kerry and Laila were chosen to represent Great Britain in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Kerry came a tremendous 7th in the Solo, and teamed up with Laila for the Duet to come 6th.
In recent years, Rushmoor has had great success with many of our swimmers representing Great Britain across the globe. In the London 2012 Olympics, our very own Jenna Randall, Olivia Federici, Asha Randall, Victoria Lucass and Jennifer Knobbs represented G.B. (Jenna & Olivia placed 9th in the duet section and the team 6th overall). In February 2015, five of our swimmers: Danielle Cooper, Jodie Cowie, Jorja Brown, Hannah Randall and Lara Hockin competed for G.B. at the 2015 European Junior Championships in Istanbul, Turkey and the team qualifed to swim for G.B. in the 1st European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan. In Baku, they placed 9th in the Team event and 10th in the Combo. Jodie placed 9th in the Duet section. In August 2016, the GB duet qualified for the Rio Olympics and Rushmoors’ Olivia Federici partnered with Katie Clarke (Reading) placed 18th in the free duet and 17th in the tech duet and placed 17th overall.
Rushmoor have been the British National Champions 23 times in 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2017.
As Champions we are very much in demand for events on/off the screen as well as some private events.