An expensive but well-needed synchronised swimming milestone
THE 2013-2014 National Synchronised Swimming season will be remembered as the best to date in Jamaica's history, and not for its place at the recently concluded UANA Pan American Synchronised Swimming Championships, but the milestone of being able to send a national 12 and under team, national junior swimmers covering three of the four categories at the Championships. The growth of the sport in terms of standard and numbers, improvement in scores, as well the discipline's ability to help itself with its funding in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline under the Lucozade brand, West Kingston Power Partners and The Water Place, which powered the Jamaica Synchro Rocks Water, all while engaging the Jamaican public into believing that it is indeed synchro country.
Five weeks prior to departure saw training being done in three sessions (routines, strength and endurance, and then figures) like that of true national teams with no distractions or funding/support issues or access to training facilities.
In retrospect the intensity of the programme should have started much earlier, but end-of-school-year exams in June/July stymied progress.
International Clinician and Synchro Inductee Hall of Famer Charlotte Davis, who was on the island in 2012 doing an assessment of the programme and swimmers, commended the strides being made and progress seen, but she noted that more international events are required to push the athletes, as expensive as it may be. The average national athlete is self-funded to the tune of US$2,700 for this event.
Coaches were being asked to upgrade themselves in theory, skills and teaching methods and use more technology as the swimmers are doing with the new figures and elements. The meet was dubbed the 'Mini Olympics' and not because of its numbers, but the entry scores of the participants and ultimately what was seen, the number of pyramids, formation in and out of the water and acrobatic moves rivalling that of a cheerleaders' spectacle with a hint of gymnastics.
As teaching methods evolve in the sports, coupled with the athletes' bodies becoming more pliable, nothing but the mind should be stopping the programme, she shared.
The country was urged to work on its endurance, flexibility and extensions which is an ongoing task that is complimented by yoga, gymnastics and doing pole fit sessions.
The scores showed improvement for Jamaica and the event as well. Case in point, 2013's 12 and under top team scored (USA # 1 Ranked Club Santa Clara Aquamaids ) 64.3625 and Low Team (Chile National Team) 57.2750 with no penalties and 2014 top team scored (USA National Team) 71.0667 and Low Team Jamaica 53.7667 having received a 1.5 penalty for not having the required eight swimmers.
They were Brianna McKenzie, T'Neil Gooden, Imani Salmon, Giselle Bradshaw and Emily Mayne 2013's top 13-1 5 duet scored (USA National Team) 74.9625 and Low Duet scored (Dominica Republic) 57.9250 in 2014 top team scored (USA National Team) 77.000 and Low Duet Jamaica 56.8000. They were Breann Campbell and Rachel Minto-Walker.
Last year's top 16-18 duet scored 78.4250 (Canada's National Team) and Low Duet scored 68.4875 (Puerto Rico National Team) in 2014 top team scored 81.4333 (Mexico's National Team) and Low Duet Jamaica 58.0333. They were Joley Campbell and L'Zane Perry.
Editor's note: Diahann Campbell is vice-president of the Synchronised Swimming Technical Committee.