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Sync, swim to win
by Tucson Citizen on Jun 19, 2008, under Sports
Tucson girls ready for national competition
When Candy Kaemerer yelled to her swimmers, “We have to do some work on the eggbeater,” there was rapt attention at the Fort Lowell swimming pool.
Not surprisingly, in unison.
Tucson Synchro’s 16-17 and 11-12-age teams will need all the togetherness they can refine in the U.S. Synchronized Swimming Age Group Championships from June 28 to July 5 in Binghamton, N.Y.
The team, headed by Kaemerer in her 36th year of coaching, qualified 15 swimmers last month in the West Zone Region D Championships in Mesa. The squad finished third in each team competition, first in the 11-12 trio event and solo and third in the 16-17 trio.
“The eggbeater is when the legs go in opposite directions,” says Emily Thompson-Bruder, a sophomore-to-be at Tucson High School. She takes part in the age 16-17 trio acts that will perform. “Faster; go higher with your feet,” she adds. “And scull with the arms.”
Technically, the eggbeater is rapid rotary action of the legs which propel the body in an upright position. Sculling is continuous movement of the hands in the water, not the most fun, says Aimee Alvira, a sophomore-to-be at Palo Verde High and a trio member.
The most fun?
“This,” Alvira says as she puts her arms up, hands turned in, showing a classic ballet move.
Synchronized swimming, begun in Canada in the early 1900s, combines ballet, swimming and dance choreographed to music. It’s a crowd pleaser and an Olympics favorite because of the poetry and precision needed. It’s also dynamic and pulsing as teams combine the intricate moves as one, doing arm movements and sinking below the surface for pauses of several seconds. Holding one’s breath may be the toughest task.
They then burst up or go forward in Tucson Synchro’s powerful finale to the symphonic can-can. A team member shoots in the air as the others surround her as ladies in waiting. Finally, the girls perform one of the most artful moves, the descending spin, a 180- or 360-degree turn head first from a vertical position and turning into the water, the body gently torqued up to the feet and fully submerged.
Kaemerer began the program at the Southwest YMCA in 1972 and the squad has competed at the state, regional, zone and national levels since. It reached its zenith from ’72 through 1980 in an undefeated streak at the state and regional levels.
In 2003 the age 14-15 team was third in the nation at the U.S. Age Group Championships and in 2006 the 12-13 trio was ninth in the competition.
“We were at a disadvantage then,” says Kaemerer. “The more people, the more points you get.”
Competition includes compulsory figures, as figure skating used to have, and routines based on a musical score, each worth 50 percent of the total score. Tucson Synchro teams consist of four to eight swimmers with additional points added for each swimmer above four. Events included are solo, duet, trio and team.
“I could have done better at the regionals,” Thompson-Bruder said. “We always feel we could have done better.
“The team began in the fall and, of course, it has taken tiring repeats and a coach who does not like to ease off.”
“We watch the videos over and over again and see things we know we can improve and control,” says Canyon del Oro junior-to-be Ellen Gauthier, the third member of the 16-17 trio; each member competes during the school year in speed swimming. “You want to get to practice to try it again.”
She may be too self-critical but technically, the slightest flaw, smallest twitch, can be disastrous.
“Coach Kaemerer is always shouting corrections but sometimes it’s hard to understand them,” says Gauthier. “With the (flow of the) music, you have to remember everything.”
Time is key to synchronized swimming
by Steve Rivera on Sep 13, 1994, under Sports
'Tucson Synchro' Tucson's Synchronized Swimming Team
The first time Kristin Martin saw some girls synchronize swimming more than seven years ago, she knew she was hooked.
Not soon after, she was holding her breath, kicking her heels and dancing to a familiar tune. She was in the sport.
Now, Martin, a 16-year-old junior at Salpointe Catholic High School, is among some of the best synchronized swimmers in the country.
She and some of her teammates at Tucson Synchro, one of the city’s two synchronized swimming teams, have done well. Martin was part of a trio who placed fifth in trio and team competition in the 16-17 age group at the National Junior Olympic Championships in Tallahassee, Fla., last month.
Nicole Dawson, Brittney Killen and Summer Hammons won the 14-15 age group in trio.
Much of the success has come with a lot of work – inside and outside – the pool.
“It takes a lot of dedication, but if it’s something you enjoy why not do it,’ Martin said.
So she does. Never mind the 12 to 15 hours a week she spends in the water and the countless hours she and the others spend selling raffle tickets and raising funds to get to such events as nationals. She does it because she loves it.
“They are pretty busy with other interests and school activities,’ coach Candy Kaemerer said.
How does Kaemerer keep the girls involved in a sport that lasts nearly 10 months a year?
“There’s a commitment to the team,’ Kaemerer said. “They will be at all practices unless there’s something important that comes up. The reason for that is that it’s a team sport. It’s nothing you do by yourself.’
Preparation for meets is essential. The girls write their own routines. Sometimes it’s not always easy.
“Right now,’ Martin said as she looked across a pool at a recent workout, “it doesn’t seem like it’s a lot of fun. Actually, it looks kind of crazy . . . but it’s a lot of fun.’
Shelly Misevch, 12, who along with seven others placed ninth in the team competition, said she feels the same. For her, as well as the others, time is tough when you want to be a champion. There’s school, the long hours in the pool, fund raising and one of her first loves – dance.
“Sometimes it’s hectic, but not all the time,’ Misevch said. “I’ve been dancing for 10 years and have been doing this for two years. I like dance. And dance helps this.’
But it wasn’t easy two years ago when she first started.
“I liked it right away, but at first, it was hard because of the laps and holding your breath underwater wasn’t easy,’ she said. “But after a while it wasn’t very hard.’
As did Martin, who admitted all the kicking, bobbing and weaving through water has at times taken its toll after seven years. But she remains true to the sport.
“I have thought about quitting,’ she said. “It takes up a lot of time. And you begin to wonder if it’s really worth it. But I’ve been doing it most of my life. And I love it.’
Arizona Daily Star
Synchro swim team raises money to help other youths
Arizona Daily Star | Mar 27, 2014
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