Artistic swimming on rise but wades against tide of underfunding
ROBYN Chin Sang, the Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) vice-president with responsibility for artistic swimming, believes the country possesses the assets to grow the sport but says it will require significant funding from individuals, corporate companies, and the Government.
This was again brought into sharp focus as the Island Aquatics artistic swimming club encountered financial difficulties as it prepares to send a delegation of athletes, two coaches, and one official to the Worldwide Invitational Meet scheduled for May 19-21 in Coral Springs, Florida.
Chin Sang pointed out that attending events like these are vital to the sport’s continued development as they introduce younger athletes, in particular, to different levels of competition.
Artistic swimming, previously known as synchronised swimming, requires athletes to perform coordinated or identical movements in time to music, with performances lasting several minutes.
“It is definitely a meet that we push to attend every year as it caters to different levels and smaller children, as most times the artistic swimming competitons on the world stage are for older and more advanced athletes. We have a bright future in the sport and the sport is definitely growing as last year we had only eight swimmers at that same competition and this year we have 18, with more currently in training for next year,” Chin Sang told the Jamaica Observer.
“These competitions give the girls the experience and drive to continue in the sport and encourage them to keep working hard to get to a new level that they will witness at these international competitions.
“So, we want the girls to have well-trained and experienced coaches, and to have such will require funding — which is why sponsorship is important. It helps in various ways to keep the sport alive and to expand if there is a commitment from individuals, companies and governments to donate and sponsor the swim meets and global competitions,” she added.
That said, Chin Sang lauded the unwavering efforts of Coach Olga Novokshchenova and her Island Aquatics family for their dedication to assisting the athletes by providing the training and opening up the possibility to take part in global artistic swimming competitions.
In fact, it was a recent fund-raiser speaeheaded by the club that will offset much of the expenses for airfare and accommodation, among other things, while parents were asked to foot the remainder.
Still Chin Sang, who was appointed vice-president late last year, is optimistic that it won’t cost the parents anything as she urged Jamaicans to put a smile on the faces of the synchro girls through their contributions which will create possibilities for the youth of Jamaica.
“The girls have been training very hard as most of them train four to five days per week, at least two to four hours per day. The girls are excited especially because many of them are new to the sport so this will be their first international event and exposure,” she shared.
“So it is imperative that they attend as many international competitions as possible. These events help to build confidence and awareness of the sport and expose our girls to the more advanced level of other swimmers and their style of showmanship. It is also great to put Jamaica on the map for representing artistic swimming,” Chin Sang noted.
With last year’s eight-member team securing 10 medals — five gold, three silver and two bronze — Chin Sang says expectations are high that this team will repeat or even surpass that tally.
“Our girls have the overall winning titles in two age categories, and we are expecting that they will defend those titles as well as gain more in the other categories,” she declared.