The 22-year-old is reflecting on a “whirlwind” 10 days which seen her and duet partner Izzy Thorpe win gold at the Olympic test event, meet the King Charles III and then officially learn of their selection for the Paris 2024 Games.

Adding to the surreal sequence of events Team GB hired out the London Aquarium for their latest Paris 2024 squad announcement; enabling the duet to swim in a tank with a variety of sea life.

Image Source: Team GB

“There were turtles, stingrays, puffer fish and every other kind of fish you can imagine in with us,” Shortman tells World Aquatics, before her team-mate admitted it had been a “fun” experience despite “hating the sea!”

“It’s taken me out of my comfort zone, but it’s a really cool once in a lifetime thing,” revealed Thorpe.

Image Source: Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe compete in the Artistic Swimming Duet Free Routine at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Something she and Shortman will soon be doing for the second time though is compete in an Olympic Games.

Their preparations and expectations for Paris 2024 are vastly different from those experienced ahead of Tokyo 2020, with new rules in the sport leading to new opportunities.

The British duet, who placed 14th overall at Tokyo 2020, have certainly seizing theirs in this new era for artistic swimming.

Image Source: Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe compete in the Women's Duet Free Final at the World Aquatics Championships - Doha 2024 (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Shortman claimed Britain’s first-ever global artistic swimming medal at the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka, with solo free bronze, before she and Thorpe attained duet silver and bronze medals at the Doha 2024 Worlds.

Image Source: Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe of Great Britain celebrate their gold from the Women's Duet Technical in Paris (Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

They further emphasised their Paris 2024 podium potential by claiming the duet free title at the Olympic test event at the new Aquatics Centre in Seine-Saint-Denis, France, earlier this month.

“There is a bit of relief at selection, but also a lot of excitement looking forward to Paris,” Shortman stated.

“We always knew that we had the capacity to do well, but we weren’t necessarily getting the credit for it and Olympic success seemed unattainable. Now we’re much closer to that goal.”

Thorpe continues; “We’ve tried not to get carried away by the hype as the main goal is obviously the summer.

“We know from the test event that we have things to work on still, but that’s a positive and we have to take a lot of confidence from what we’ve achieved into the next few months.”

Meeting King Charles III

Royal Garden Parties were historically held at Buckingham Palace in London, England, or the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland and were attended by debutantes. However, they have evolved into gatherings which recognise and reward public service.

Thorpe and Shortman were nominated on account of their historic World championship achievements and although they knew they would be in the presence of royalty, meeting the King came as something of a shock.

“We received the invite and then maybe a week before we got another email saying ‘you've been shortlisted to meet a member of the Royal Family’ and we had to send in a picture and biography,” reveals Shortman.

Thorpe continued; “It was only when we arrived on location and they told us ‘oh actually you’re going to meet the King today’ which was amazing.

“He did mention something about bringing home a gold, but we were so excited to meet him I don’t remember to much about what we said."

Shortman continued; “I think he asked about how long we can hold our breath for, which a lot of people ask and yes there was talk about the gold which we get asked about a lot, but generally it was just an incredible experience.”

Royal recognition of their achievements to date is a significant statement and step.

Great Britain has never won an Olympic medal in the sport and athletes have traditionally had to cope without funding, or any real prospects of joining their more celebrated aquatic colleagues, in diving and swimming, on the Olympic podium.

To put this into context, since the UK Sport funding programme was launched heading into the Sydney 2000 Games British swimmers have received around $128m (£102m) in financial support, with divers attaining over $42m (£33.8m). Artistic swimmers have attained less than $7.5m (£6m).

Image Source: Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe compete in the Artistic Swimming Duet Free Routine at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Times though are clearly changing and Team GB Chef de Mission Mark England believes a medal in Paris would rank among the most significant British sporting accomplishments in modern memory.

“These two women are pioneers and the fact they are now medal competitive means it could be one of the most exciting stories to emerge from the Paris Olympic Games,” he told World Aquatics.

“We at the British Olympic Association will do absolutely everything we can in the build-up to the Games and in Paris to help them achieve optimal performance, but what they have done to get here is quite extraordinary.”

Image Source: Team GB

Team manager Karen Thorpe, who is also Izzy’s mother and used to compete with Kate Shortman’s mother, is equally optimistic about the duet’s prospects in Paris.

“The dedication that Iz and Kate have shown, not just over the last four years but a full lifetime of work will hopefully be the biggest factor in our aim to bring those medals back from the Games,” she said.

“I think we can show the community and the country that there is an opportunity for people not just to run or swim fast, but also to be creative and be involved in a team sport - we are one of the only sports to be able to boast both those things.”

Legacy is certainly a key driver for the athletes themselves.

“We’re really hoping to raise the profile of the sport and help more people get into artistic swimming,” says Thorpe.

Shortman continued; “We also want to make everyone proud who have supported us over the years, friends, family, coaches and of course inspire the younger ones who will hopefully be following in our footsteps in the years to come.”