Synchronized swimming looks to recruit new members

Team works to rebuild ranks


Ella Hammerstrand

Senior Savannah Kjaer and sophomore Annie Breyak practice their vertical bent knees at a Minnesota Aquafins club practice. They practice three days a week to prepare for the upcoming high school season.

Yonit Krebs

After noticing dwindling interest among girls in joining the synchronized swimming team, senior Alex Monson decided to talk with potential recruits individually to build interest.

“Usually for normal recruitment we will just put up posters and girls show interest and show up to the meetings, but this year we are trying to reach out personally to kids,” Monson said. “If you reach out to them individually and let them know it’s okay to be brand new, we really want you on this team, we really appreciate you here, they might be more inclined to join.”

Freshman Maya Lee said among other methods of reaching out to girls more directly, some seniors on the team went to St. Louis Park Middle School to spark people’s interest in joining the team.

“Some people went to the Middle School around lunch time and went to every table talking to people seeing if they want to try and join the team,” Lee said. “I think individual people have been telling their friends to join if they don’t already have stuff in the spring like another spring sport.”

Monson said many girls wrongly assume it is difficult to join the team without prior experience.

“What happens is that they think that when they first join it is going to be really difficult, so they don’t really want to give it a try, but when you first start swimming it’s really fun and the coaches make it so it is easier for you, so you can start enjoying the sport before you have to try and improve,” Monson said.

According to coach Linda Gust, the synchronized swimming coaches are well equipped to teach new swimmers basic skills and help them improve to the point where they are ready to compete.

“For most swimmers within the first couple of weeks, they have learned enough of the basic skills to a level where they can compete at our first meet and start learning routines,” Gust said. “We try to provide plenty of support for the swimmer and the coaches who work with this group make practice rewarding and as fun as they can.”

According to Monson, girls should join the team because they become close through the bonds they develop after many hours together in the swimming pools.

“I think it would be a really good opportunity to build, not just a team, but a family, because we are more than just a team,” Monson said. “We just end up to be closer than the average team because we are all together.”

Lee said synchronized swimming provides a very different experience from many other sports that girls should consider trying out.

“Before the season we’ll usually do some captains’ practices, like we’ll go do painting or last year we did a barre class. We’ll have a team sleepover every year and so will go on a scavenger hunt and it really brings the team together,” Lee said. “Of course, once we are together for all that time, it really becomes a tight-knit team.”

Lee describes synchronized swimming as a combination of ballet and gymnastics in the water. According to Lee, they perform in teams of four to eight girls and they will also perform trios, duets and solos.

“We don’t get to touch the ground and will be underwater with our legs up in the air or doing arm movements or lifts sometimes where someone gets jumps out,” Lee said.

According to Monson, some girls lose interest because the sport requires its team members to attend practice regularly.

“A couple times you get girls who think it’s going to be really easy to just skip practices, and what happens is they end up not showing up anymore because you fall behind. In a sport where you have to learn things with your team, it affects your performance because you have to now memorize that whole routine on your own with no support from your team.”

Lee said any girl who wants to be on the team can join, and there is no try out process. She said there is a large time commitment that can discourage many people, but other aspects of the sport make joining the team worthwhile.

“It is a big time commitment because we practice both in the mornings and in the afternoons and then also on Saturdays,” Lee said. “Anyone who wants to join is immediately on the team. There’s no trying out, there’s nothing like that.”

According to Gust, the team accepts an interested swimmer in seventh grade or above.

“We have never had tryouts,” Gust said. “Our goal is for any swimmer interested in being on the team to have that opportunity.”

There will be an information meeting after school Feb. 14 in room A302.