Diving deep; an inside look at synchronized swimming (with videos)

MESA, Ariz. – Training to deny your physical need for air while using every part of your body to execute fast choreography; these are few of the unique characteristics that define synchronized swimming.

 

This past week one of only two Dallas synchronized swimming teams, The Pirouettes of Texas, competed at the 2016 U.S. Nationals Synchronized Swimming Championship at the Skyline Aquatic Center, the most elite synchronized swimming (synchro) competition in the country.

 

Synchro is a combination of elements from swimming, gymnastics and dance in routines choreographed to match a piece of music. In this sport, breathing is a privilege and swimmers must train their bodies to go against their instincts and control their breath throughout a routine. For long portions of their routines, swimmers are underwater doing leg choreography or throwing lifts- all without touching the bottom of the pool.

 

“It’s really different from any other sport. There’s a combination of things we do like gymnastics and swimming,” Santa Clara (Calif.) Aquamaids swimmer Audrey Nguyen said. “A lot of people think it’s really easy but it’s a lot of training and it’s pretty difficult.”

 

The Santa Clara Aquamaids train nearly 40 hours a week and took home the title of 2016 U.S. Nationals junior champions.

 

While at such an important meet, the short amount of time between  warm ups and swims has swimmers sharing everything from clothes to nose clips, and relying on each other for everything from fixing hair to moral support before competing. Described as “the ultimate team sport” by the USA Synchro organization, the close relationships formed with teammates during practice and especially at meets make synchro so enjoyable for swimmers.

“My favorite part about this sport is the fact that you get to be united with a team and work together,” swimmer Valeria Hernandez from the Coral Springs (Fla.) Aquacades said. “It also gives you a lot of skills for your future life like teamwork and focusing on what you need to do.”

 

The meet also showcased the combination of athleticism and poise that synchronized swimming embodies as the best swimmers in the nation competed in it, including college teams and past Olympians. The most recognized swimmer there was 2012 Olympic duet swimmer and Lindenwood University student Mary Killman, a Pirouettes of Texas alumn.

 

Having been in the sport for over a decade, she knows all about what it takes to blend beauty and strength in a synchronized swimming routine.

You have to smile and you have to look like everything is easy and when you want to like fall over and you want to show that you’re sweating and you’re dying and you want air, you can’t”

— Mary Killman

 

“You have to smile and you have to look like everything is easy and when you want to like fall over and you want to show that you’re sweating and you’re dying and you want air, you can’t,” Killman said.

 

This complex combination of artistic presentation and athletic execution draws swimmers to this rare sport and drives them to succeed at meets like the U.S. Nationals.