Wallingford is home to two teens who are a part of Seattle’s Synchronized Swim Team (SST), the most competitive and successful synchronized team in the Pacific Northwest with girls of all ages on the US National Team. During its 20 years of training and competing, it has garnered three Olympians: Jillian Penner (2008), Tracy Ruiz-Conforto and Candy Costa-Burk (1984 Gold Medalists).
Wallingford resident Eva Gonzales wrote to tell me about her daughter, Irene who, along with her friend, have been doing “synchro” for years. One of the girls made it to the USA Synchro National Championships last year, and her team placed 4th in team routine and 7th in their duet:
In Irene’s case, it all began by mere chance: when she was 6 and had been swimming for 3 years, we saw an announcement that girls were being admitted for synchro. It was funny because right after that, the pool where she was doing her lap swimming closed down and we turned to synchronized swimming so she kept exercising and here we are now!
The sport consists of two different parts or skills: ‘figures’ and ‘routines’. Figures are all the different positions and evolutions they have to master in the water and they are judged and given scores and ranked. This part is essential, since the swimmer can become eligible to be part of the National Team of her age group if she gets placed high enough in Nationals. Some of these figures are mandatory for age groups and they have to do some of them in a season at all meets.
Routines are the ‘dances’ they do, with music and measuring time. Here they are judge both technically (how difficult and well-executed a choreography is carried out) and artistically too. That is part of the importance of swim suits and head pieces and grace and style. The routines come in four varieties: solos, duets, trios and team routine.
Eva also told me that one of the main challenges of SST is that they don’t have their own pool, and finding local “pool time” can be pretty tricky. The girls swim a few times a week in Redmond, Kirkland, and Tukwila.
On April 22, SST put on their “Celebration Swim” in which the team and coaches were celebrated for their hard work and commitment. The annual event was also a chance for the community to get a first-hand look at synchronized swimming, and the opportunity for the public to even give it a try.
The club is looking to expand membership and recruit new swimmers. If you’re interested in checking them out, best thing to do first is to email the club and they’ll keep you posted on when they schedule the next “Try Synchronized Swimming for Free!” event.