London Olympics Sparks Renewed Interest In Synchronized Swimming

London Olympics Sparks Renewed Interest In Synchronized Swimming

    Graceful, athletic legs and nose-clipped faces are returning to swimming pools across the country as synchronized swimming enjoys a resurgence of interest.  Newly-developed underwater camera technology unveiled during the London Summer Olympic Games might be credited, in part, with helping spur interest in an aquatic sport that is known for combining such disciplines as competitive speed swimming, gymnastics and dance - providing fierce athleticism. The split camera images televised world-wide allowed spectators to better understand the strength and complexity involved in synchro swimming.

   Competitive and recreational programs are embracing the increased interest. In many locations, additional novice classes have been added to accommodate the growth. Proponents of synchronized swimming emphasis "friends, fitness and fun" for participants, regardless of interest level.

    Like other sports, synchronized swimming has a competitive structure that begins with its novice (beginner) grassroots classes and evolves through a progression that includes the intermediate division, age group division, junior class, senior class and continues through elite national team competitive divisions, culminating with the U.S. Olympic Team program. Synchronized swimming became a Summer Olympic Games sport during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games during which Traci Ruiz-Conforto and Candie Costie captured the gold medal in the duet event, with Ruiz-Conforto winning the gold in the solo event.

    In addition, there are competitive programs in both high schools and colleges across the United States. Collegiate synchronized swimming includes non-varsity club teams as well as Division I, II and III programs. In July 2013, synchronized swimming will be among the sports featured in the World University Games in Kazan, Russia.

  Synchro swimming is a "lifetime sport" as is evident through the popular masters synchronized swimming division for adult athletes, ages 20-and-older. Opportunities are available for these adult athletes to compete both in the U.S. and internationally in events like the World Masters Games.

   Beside competitive synchro swimming programs, recreational synchro classes are also growing. While not featuring competitive opportunities, often these programs involve aquatic watershows for their participants. YMCAs, in fact, incorporate synchronized swimming skills in all levels of its swimming classes and some YMCAs also have both non-competitive recreational and competitive programs at their facilities.

   Professional opportunities to perform synchro are also on the increase as professional aquatic troupes are forming and existing programs are growing at venues including Los Angeles (Splash!, Aqualilies, Maraquas Show Team and Unsyncables Show Team), Las Vegas, New York and Miami. Most recently in Las Vegas, in addition to Wynn LeReve ("The Dream") and "O" by Cirque du Soleil at the Bellagio, the new Las Vegas Water Beauties feature veteran synchronized swimmers in theatrical aquatic shows.

   Locally, in the greater Los Angeles area, age group and masters competitive programs include: Los Angeles Synchro, Los Angeles Aquanymphs, La Mirada Aquabelles, the Meraquas of Irvine, Riverside Aquettes, Terrance Sync or Swim and the Unsyncables of LaMirada, according to Karen Rosolowski, 52, the head coach of the Los Angeles Synchro Team and a masters athlete in her own right.

   "Synchronized swimming is a competitive sport for all ages," said Rosolowski. "It's a lifetime sport that has a performance aspect that makes it very popular." In addition to the competitive area programs, the LA '84 recreation program boasts 300 swimmers in pools throughout the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles.

   To learn more about competitive and recreational synchronized swimming, contact U.S. Synchronized Swimming at www.usasynchro.org or email Rosolowski at winngingperf@gmail.com.

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Written by: Lorraine Bloeth Valerino See other articles by Lorraine Bloeth Valerino
About the Author:

Lorraine Bloeth Valerino, 52, is the head coach of the Lakeland YMCA Flamingo Synchronized Swim Team in Lakeland, FL.  During her college years, she helped organize the Troy (Ala.) University Trojan Seahorses and is chairman of the NW Florida Association of Synchronized Swimming.  Also a masters synchro athlete, Valerino is a freelance journalist in Central Florida and an elementary school teacher.

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