As one of five new athletes selected for the British Gas Synchronised Swimming Team in January 2013, 16-year-old Genevieve Randall’s first taste of a major international comp was at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona. With several retirements from the team after this event, Genevieve went on to compete as part of a new-look 10-strong team at the French Open earlier this year, where they took fifth spot in the Free Combination team event, and finshed eighth place overall in the Team Free.
Describe a typical day.
I usually get up at about 05:00 if I’m at home; I spend most of the week at Carolyn Wilson’s house (former European synchro medallist) which means I can usually lie in until 06:00. When I get to the pool it’s usually ½ hour of land warm-up or a couple of hours of S&C and then I train to 13:00. Twice a week I train in the afternoons from 14:00-17:00 on my solo or duet. On these days I usually squeeze in a session at lunchtime with my tutor. My days off are Sunday and Wednesday and I usually travel home on a Tuesday afternoon so I can manage a full day at school on the Wednesday. It probably seems a bit of a crazy routine but I’m used to it now and it works well for me.
When did you learn to swim, and when did you take up synchro?
I learnt to swim at my local swimming pool in Faringdon and spent my summers swimming at the Defence Academy outdoor pool in Watchfield where my father worked. I never really had formal swimming lessons but just loved messing about in the water. I took up synchro when I was 11 when I joined Witney and District Synchronised Swimming Club. I think someone suggested that it might be a good thing to do as I was a strong confident swimmer and really enjoyed competitive gymnastics.
What is your first memory of synchro?
I think I was quite naughty and not so good at listening and I seem to recall spending a lot of time under water. The first competition I took part in was the Robin Hood Competition, where I competed with my twin sister, I think the music was Elvis!
What is your greatest synchronised swimming achievement so far?
I think it was being part of the team who competed at the World Championships in 2013; although I was reserve I learned a lot from the athletes who had swum at the Olympics and the training was fantastic. I was also really proud to win silver at National Age Groups in 2012 after moving to Bristol. That was a huge step up for me and I was really positive about the feedback received from my England Talent debut earlier that summer.
Do you know how many titles or medals you have won?
I really can’t remember. I don’t have as many as you might think possibly because I was such a latecomer to the sport but I’m very proud of my first international medal, team bronze at the 2013 Spanish Open.
What is your best moment in synchro?
It’s really not any one moment in time. It’s the buzzy feeling that you get when you’ve competed and you know you’ve swum as well as you can, I guess it’s the adrenalin high!
And your worst synchro moment?
This was in Ostia and I was performing with my duet partner for a local audience as warm up for the French Open. The music started and then stopped when I was mid way through diving into the pool having completed our deck work. I belly flopped into the water and had to crawl back out of the pool to start again, technically it wasn’t my fault though, honestly!
What was your first overseas or international event?
My first overseas international event was as an England Talent swimmer in 2012 at the Croatian Open. It was a really positive experience and our coach was Miriam Glez now the USA High Performance Director, it was Miriam who really encouraged me to believe I could be successful.
What are your sporting ambitions?
Despite all the current uncertainties around funding and the legal appeal, I won’t lose sight of my ambition to represent GB at the Rio games. There’s a lot of work to be done but it’s where I want to be.
Do you have any brothers or sisters?
I am one of five children which is pretty unusual!
Are they involved in synchro or any other aquatic sports?
My elder brother who is at uni is a lifeguard and my younger brother, Jude, swims at the local club. My identical twin sister started out doing synchro with me but she couldn’t cope with the early morning starts so got into rhythmic gymnastics. She’s recently retired to train as an arialist.
Do they have any annoying habits?
They are generally annoying but the thing is that none of my brothers can whisper which can be a problem when I’m trying to get to sleep knowing that I have to be up in the early hours of the morning!
Do you have any hobbies apart from synchro?
I really don’t have much time for hobbies, which probably is no surprise, but I love taking photographs.
What music, singers or bands do you like?
I like Beyonce, Ed Sheeren, and Ariana Grande, oh and Ben Howard and Eminem.
What is your favourite TV programme?
I hate to say it but it’s got to be Dance Mums and Vampire Diaries!
What was the last book you read?
Jessica Ennis’ autobiography. I would so like to meet her.
What are your favourite food and drink?
I love Rubicon Mango, and roast gammon.
Your favourite colour?
I like coral.
What is your favourite holiday destination?
I’d like to go back to California. I really enjoyed training out in Walnut Creek earlier this year when it was wet and cold in the UK and can’t wait to go back!
Do you come from a sporting family?
Most of my family take part in sport. My twin sister and I are quite exceptional in that we have pursued our sport competitively. My uncle having been a world class badminton player is now Director of Badminton Ireland.
What makes you so good at your sport?
Perhaps it’s my genes but I think I’m quite driven. As a synchro swimmer you have to be very flexible and powerful and I’m lucky in those respects.
Do you have any superstitions?
No but I like to train with the same nose clip that I’ve trained with prior to taking part in a competition, and I like to have Monty my motivational monkey with me on the day I compete!
What is your star sign?
I think I’m a Sagittarian.
What was your favourite subject at school?
I love art but unfortunately I don’t think I’m going to be able to carry on with it at A Level because I just don’t have the time.
If you were stranded on a desert island, which three things would you most want (apart from a phone)?
Other than the basic survival items of which water would be one, I would want a camera, a good book to read and a pillow – love my sleep!
What would be your ideal job or career apart from synchronised swimming?
I’m planning on going to university at some point and am thinking about a career in nursing, athough I’m also interested in studying architecture.
If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you spent money on?
I think I’d put some of it towards creating a World Class training facility for Synchro so we wouldn’t have to worry about funding, but then I’d have to have an amazing holiday and a shopping spree to compensate.
Do you have any pets?
We’ve got seven chickens, two border collies and a cat called Ozzie, and my twin and I have just been given two ducklings who we’ve named Delilah and Dolly.
If you came back as an animal in a future life, what would you like to be?
I’d want to come back as a dolphin because they’re free, beautiful and intelligent.
What is your ultimate relaxation?
Watching a film curled up in bed after a massage!
Any advice to young up-and-coming athletes?
I like this advice from Jessica Ennis’ coach. ‘You have to stick at it and judge your progress over the course of a few years and not your first competition… people give up too soon, before giving sports a real chance.'
What’s the last thing you do before leaving the changing room when competing?
It’s different every time because sometimes we’re quite rushed and there’s not time for anything – I just like to get out there and go!