Synchro swimmers eye Pan-Am, Rio Games

BY PAUL BURROWES Observer writer

Sunday, September 02, 2012    

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JAMAICA'S sychronised swimmers, with the backing of the government and the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), have set their sights on the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto and 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

In order to pave the way, Synchro Stars Jamaica, under the leadership of chairman Diahann Campbell, who is also vice-president in charge of the local sport, has secured a top-ranking evaluator and leading authority on the sport, Judy McGowan.

"After campaigning for nearly a year, the Synchro Stars Jamaica was finally able to secure Top Ranking FINA Evaluator Judy McGowan who is ranked top five in the world and one of the authors for the FINA Synchronised Swimming Rule Book, Judges Manual and Coaches Manual," said a delighted Campbell.

"Having her work with our local judges will increase our relevancy and boost our presence on the world stage," she emphasised.

In addition, American clinician Charlotte Davis and national team member Emily Drew will support McGowan as judges, athletes and coaches attending the October 4-6 Jamaican International Synchronised Swimming Invitational (JISSI).

It will be the fourth staging, with the figure category set for the National Stadium on day one. Novice and intermediate participants will compete at the YMCA on day two, while age-group and master swimmers will travel to Bournemouth Bath on the final day.

Athletes from Canada, Curacao, United States and Jamaica will take part in the three-day event.

"Both the FINA evaluator and national clinician bring years of experience and expertise that can only be gained by working with the world's top programmes, a combination like this has never graced the Caribbean and they carry a cost of US$4,000 for which investors (sponsors) are still being sought," added Campbell.

The Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) vice-president said qualifying for the Pan-American Games would solidify their entry for the next Olympic Games in Brazil.

"These are type of programmes that must take place here... as we... cannot afford to go to them to upgrade our standards," Campbell said.

Minister with Responsibility for Sports, Natalie Neita-Headley, said: "We're throwing our weight behind this minor sport, who have a drive and passion to do well. I'm pleased with what they are doing as we want to broaden the number of sports that we participate in at the highest level."

She said strengthening bilateral relations with other countries even as Jamaica developed their athletes to the highest technical standard was crucial to her agenda for the island to compete in a variety of sports at multi-event games.

Neita-Headley insisted that she would be seeking corporate support in the private sector while maximising the funds available to those sports that are well organised and professionally run.

JOA boss Mike Fennell said while synchronised swimming would qualify for Olympic Solidarity funds under the development programme of ASAJ, it would be a "long haul" for the locals.

"This is a strenuous sport," he argued, but Synchro Stars started a "beautiful thing".

Synchro Stars has tried to Jamaicanise the sport, integrating the theme song of Jamaica 50 celebrations as part of their act as well as the recording of leading Jamaica artistes.

Investors so far in the fourth Staging of JISSI are Ambucare 24 Hour Ambulance Company, JTB, Ensure, Nature Valley Docutech, DCDigital, Knutsford Court Hotel, Jamaica Olympics Association, Sport Development Foundation with all technology (scoring, results etc) with the support of Brawta Sports.





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