Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow
PLYMOUTH'S Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow oozed class as Great Britain's Olympic pairing comfortably won the women's 10m synchro title at the British Gas Diving Championships at the Life Centre.
The reigning high-board champions, competing in their home city in a major event for the first time, thrilled a packed and partisan crowd with an increasingly confident set of dives.
After a nervous start they concluded their five-round dive series with a winning total of 327.66 points.
The British number ones defeated nearest rivals Becky Gallantree and Jenny Cowen (304.14), who saw off the challenge of much-fancied youngsters Shanice Lobb and Georgia Ward (272.28), who were making their debuts in a senior competition.
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Lobb, 15, is the latest of the international divers to come off Plymouth Diving and Team GB coach Andy Banks' seemingly endless conveyor belt of talented athletes, while Ward competes for Crystal Palace.
Reigning European synchro champions Couch and Barrow had been the favourites to retain their title and admitted winning in front of a home crowd at the spectacular Life Centre made it all the more special.
They said Barrow being based in Plymouth again after four years studying in Leeds certainly made for better preparation which the girls felt showed in the performance.
Couch said: "It was really nice to have some home support, but it didn't put us under any more pressure than before.
"Competing at home made it different, that's all, but in a nice way.
"It's nice we can compete in our own centre in our own city.
"Of course, you're always concerned someone is going to beat you."
Barrow said: "I think the main difference is that normally when we've trained together before it's meant travelling for one of us and therefore less time for preparation.
"It means you've just got a few days with a lot of hard dives to do, but being based here it means we've been training basically since last summer.
"We're both in Plymouth and therefore can train at the Life Centre together every day.
"A good example is our inward (3½ somersaults) and forward (3½ somersaults) were two of our best dives today.
"Fair enough, the reverse dive which is usually one of our best wasn't up to our usual level, but we know we can do that better. It's not a problem."