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Sync or swim: Water Blossoms start training
Since she began working with the Kitsap Water Blossoms six years ago, assistant coach Kathryn Surber has seen a constant decrease in numbers.
This year’s seven-member team is one of the smallest and youngest — the swimmers range in age from 7 to 17 — she’s seen so far. Synchronized swimming isn’t as easy as it looks, she said, and not everyone is able to dedicate the necessary time to be competitive.
“We are one of the smaller teams that I have seen go to competitions,” said Surber, who began competing at the age of 10. The team maintains its size as when one competitor leaves, another comes along to see what the sport is all about.
In the past. the team members who do show consistently to practices at the North Kitsap Community Pool have reached the national level, said Surber, herself a two-time veteran of national competition.
She points to the hefty training schedule synchronized swimmers endure to explain the team size, she said.
The Water Blossoms will begin competing in early November.
Synchronized swimming is broken into novice, intermediate and age group classes. If enrolled in either of the first two classes, a swimmer can compete, but is not eligible for national-level competition. Once a swimmer is skilled enough to compete in a specific age group, that person can compete up through the Olympics.
Marc Rimbault, treasurer for the Water Blossoms, said the conditioning the swimmers go through is impressive.
Rimbault watches his daughter, Trudy, compete for the Water Blossoms and is continuously impressed at her athleticism which he says extends beyond the pool.
Swimmers must be flexible, not only to contour their bodies in the pool, but to make sure they don’t cramp up underwater. To accomplish this, they must maintain a steady exercise regimen. Cardio workouts also help with holding their breath, which is something the girls will do more often as they advance.
“These girls will hold their breath for three or four minutes,” Rimbault said. “I have tried swimming with them and I’ll tell you, it’s tough.”
Right now, the Water Blossoms are not ready to compete outside the intermediate class, but many have potential, said head coach Alexandra Harney.
Harney began her career in synchronized swimming with the national’s team in Peru, then moved to Arizona to compete with the team at the University of Arizona. After competing at the collegiate level and and graduating, she moved to Washington and took over the Water Blossoms two years ago.
To compete in higher classes, Harney said swimmers must have’ a dedication to the sport, a dedication which can get in the way of the rest of a swimmer’s life.
“It’s just like every other sport. If you don’t have the dedication you end up quitting,” Harney said. “Life gets harder and you can’t give 100 percent.”
Along with flexibility training and aerobic conditioning, swimmers lif weights and run regularly. The Water Blossoms will not train as hard, but Harney said they will train for six months, three times a week.
The team often sees people show up late to tryout with the team, but said anyone between the ages of 7 and 17 are welcome to show up at their practices on Saturday.
“School is obviously more important when you’re growing up … at least you think so until you try this,” Harney said.