October 2004 archives

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26 October 2004

The company Finis Inc., founded by John Mix and Olympic gold medalist Pablo Morales, has developed a new SwiMP3 player for aquatic athletes. This new waterproof music player is supposed to play your favorite MP3 songs with high clarity while you do your swimming workout. It sells for about $250 now, which seems pretty pricey. But if you are looking for that extra push while you do your workouts, this may be the gadget for you. I'd love to try it, as I get a little bored swimming back and forth in the pool during workouts. Also, synchro soloists might try this when training without music.

19 October 2004

Have you ever wondered what synchronized swimming judges look for in a routine? The international federation's rulebook outlines clearly what judges are to be reviewing when judging a routine. Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10, including tenths of a point. A very elite routine might receive a 9.8 up to a 10.0.

There are ideally 10-14 judges around a pool during a routine. In a free routine, half of them are judging technical merit, and the other half are judging artistic impression. In a technical routine, half of the judges are watching for execution and the other half are overall impression. The judges are evenly spaced up and down the right and left hand sides of the pool.

Judges must take and exam and qualify to judge a routine. There are different levels of judges. At the international level, judges are listed as being in the 'General', 'A', or 'B' category. The FINA website specifies who can be considered for each category and the qualifications required.

14 October 2004

In order to learn synchro, it is necessary to find a program or a club that teaches the sport. Some YMCA's and local pools offer classes, and many clubs exist around the country. The USA Synchro website offers a listing of clubs in the United States: Club Finder. Clubs range in size from a few athletes to those with up to 100 athletes ranging in age from 7-32.

Clubs are usually run by volunteer parents and paid or volunteer coaches. Parents and coaches do an incredible amount of work to keep these non-profit organizations running. Most clubs have a Board of Directors and officers that manage the business duties of the club.

During the synchro season, which lasts from about January through August, athletes usually enter competitions through their affiliated club. (it is possible, however, to enter a competition as 'unattached' to a club) United States Synchronized Swimming sanctions a progressive track of competitions during the year for all skill levels and age groups.

Throughout my 14 year athletic career in synchro, I swam with two clubs: the Arizona Aquastars, and the Walnut Creek Aquanuts (California). When athletes qualify for the United States National Team, they no longer represent their clubs in world competitions, but they represent the United States.

11 October 2004

Sync or Swim is an upcoming documentary by Cheryl Furjanic that will feature the making of the 2004 Olympic bronze medal winning US Synchronized Swimming Team. This documentary is scheduled to be released this winter.

You've got to check out the trailer! Just by looking at the trailer, I can see that this film will show the real story behind the intensity and training that goes into this sport.

7 October 2004

Many sports have a Masters category. In the Aquatic sports (swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, water polo) this category of competitors is made up of athletes over the age of 25. It is a fun way for athletes to remain competitive in their sports.

For aquatic sports, the International Aquatics Federation (FINA) website is helpful to place learn about the rules and events in the Masters category for all aquatic sports.

There is also a World Aquatics Masters competition held every two years. In June of this year it was held in San Marino. There were quite a few US participants that placed on the podium. In 2006 it will be held in San Francisco!

This year the US National Masters Synchronized Swimming event will be held in Roseville, California.

5 October 2004

Synchronized swimming is a sport that can be done in college. There are several universities in the United States that offer scholarships as well, including Stanford University and Ohio State University. In recent years, athletes that have competed at the collegiate level have gone on to compete on the United States National and Olympic teams. These athletes inlcude 1988 & 1992 Olympians Sarah and Karen Josephson (Ohio State), 2004 Olympian Becky Jasontek (Ohio State), 1996 Olympians Margot Thien Mullin and myself (UC Berkeley), Emily LeSueur (Arizona State), and 1996 & 2000 Olympian Heather Olson (Stanford), and 2000 Olympian Bridget Finn (Stanford) among others.

Not all collegiate programs in synchro are at the Varsity level, meaning they do not offer scholarships. However, all of the athletes can compete in local, regional, and National events, with Collegiate Nationals being the highest rated meet.

High school athletes that are interested in competing in college can visit several websites to get more information on synchro activities at their schools of choice.

For information on collegiate synchronized swimming, visit USA Synchro's Collegiate website.

Here is a list of the 34 colleges/universities that currently have synchro programs.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) recognizes Synchronized Swimming as an emerging sport. For criteria on an 'emerging' sport and other NCAA information vist the NCAA website.

2 October 2004

The synchronized swimming season lasts from about January through August. From September through December, athletes are busy building strength and skills, as well as writing new routines for the upcoming year. Typically, elite athletes create new routines each year. Younger athletes may use routines that were used by their older counterparts the previous year.

Synchronized swimming routines are performed to music, similar to figure skating. The first step in the process of creating a routine is selecting music. Usually, several pieces of music are spliced together to create a routine. The process is very involved, and coaches are increasingly using professional music editors in order to get the best quality product.

Usually a theme is created with music choice, either by selecting music from one composer, or creating a theme with various pieces of music. An example of using one composer for an entire routine would be to use various selections from Beethoven. You can also create a theme by selecting music from a show like 'Phantom of the Opera' or 'Cats'. This year, it has been publicized that figure skater Michelle Kwan is skating to Bolero. This can also be done with a synchro routine.

If you had in mind a unique idea, like a carnival theme, you could select any music that fits this theme. There is no limit to the number of ideas you can create with your music. The only requirement for synchronized swimming music is a time limit. You can view these rules on the International Federation's website.

synchronized swimming insights from an olympic gold medalist