Guest Post: The World of Synchronized Swimming...

Before I begin the guest post from my mom's blog, Linda's Life Journal, I must add a few words of my own since the subject is near and dear to my heart. Synchronized swimming has long been a huge part of my life. I first entered the sport when I was 7 years old, and continued until a back injury retired me in 2002. I enjoyed every minute I spent with my team, The Pirouettes of Texas, and my closest friends today are those same girls with whom I spent so many hours in the pool.

In 2008, I resumed my competitive streak and joined my former teammates for the US Masters Championships in Las Vegas, and we won! It was such a fun experience and I look forward to swimming with them again once I've returned from Scotland. (They continued on in 2009, taking second place at the US Masters Championships in Florida.)

This is a guest post from my mom, who's been a mentor, a coach, a team mom and a loyal supporter of the Pirouettes from the very beginning! It's not a swim practice without "Mrs. Chapman" coming to the pool with a tin of cookies and a smile on her face.
There aren't many folks who know an awful lot about synchronized swimming, so hopefully this post helps enlighten you and creates a greater appreciation for such an incredible sport! So take it away, mom!


I recently revisited the world of Synchronized Swimming.....a sport that was a huge part of my life for nearly a dozen years! The city of Irving and The Pirouettes of Texas hosted the US Open Synchronized Swimming Championships July 15-17 at the North Lake College Natatorium. Eight countries were represented including Canada, China, Dominican Republic, Great Britain, Korea and Mexico as well as teams from all over the United States!

It was interesting to see all the posted information in several languages. Notice the sign "No Gelling PLEASE." If you are not familiar with Synchronized Swimming you may not know how the athletes keep their hair all neat and tidy during the competitions. GELL! Knox Unflavored Gelatin! Mix about 3 packets of that to 1/2 cup of boiling water.....stir til smooth and apply with a paintbrush to hair which has been put up in a ponytail and braided or twisted into a bun, pinned securely and covered with a hair net which is pinned yet again! (You need LOTS and LOTS of bobby pins!) There is a real art to 'Knoxing' as we call it! It is a bit like sculpture and a bit like making candy! Timing is crucial! There is a magic moment when the gel is cool enough to apply and yet hot enough to comb back smoothly from the forehead after you get all the hair covered well. A good Knox job will last through a couple of swims. It IS a bit messy and can be very uncomfortable for the swimmers.....especially if you drip it down their neck and it DRIES and then they turn their head.....it can PULL the skin painfully! This can take awhile for the inexperienced! However by the time you reach this level of competition one is amazed at how swiftly and deftly it can be done! There is also the problem of messing up the bathrooms with all the hairnets, bobby pins and rubber bands and the GOOK of the gell itself! I noticed the City of Irving had set up portable bathroom buildings aptly labeled "Gelling Station." All this gell can be washed out in really warm water and is actually GOOD for the hair!

This is my daughter, Amber, who swan for 11 years....please note the excellent hair gelling!

The girls swim to a wonderful array of different music and wear beautiful suits ablaze with sequins, crystals, and jewels that catch the light as they swim!

This is Team TEXAS and they are ready to practice! (Mom's on the right, in red!)

Now they are ready to compete!

There were nearly 200 athletes at this competition!

Amazing lifts....the water is deep and NO SWIMMER touches the bottom at any time! They boost a swimmer up by egg beater-ing with their legs. It is exciting to watch these athletes!

She is standing on other swimmers who are supporting her but NOT touching the bottom of the pool....they move constantly and there is never a dull moment! There are lifts and throws and pattern changes.....pretty awesome!

This is my good friend, Candie, who is the scoring chairman. A huge amount of work is required to get the scores accurately recorded! Did I mention it was ABOVE 100 degrees during this meet?

These swimmers are from Team Alberta in Canada and they could not believe this is NORMAL Texas temps! Note the lady on the right behind me in sunglasses....she was the 1984 Olympian silver medalist.....USA's Tracy Ruiz won Gold! To learn more about the history of Synchronized Swimming go to http://swimming.about.com/od/2008olympicsynchro/ss/synchro_history_3.htm.

A LOT of work AND expense goes into hosting a meet of this caliber and on this scale! Walter is in charge of so MUCH in the city of Irving! He has a ton of responsibilities! And a host of special people from guards to the most important person of all.......the one I did NOT get a photo of.....THE MEET MANAGER!!! Beth Evans! She did a splendid job and is probably still asleep as I type this! She had to be one TIRED lady!

I will end this post with my all time favorite pic of my all time favorite team....The Pirouettes of Texas....and my ALL TIME favorite swimmer....Amber! I saw several teams doing similar lifts at the recent meet. This pic was taken at a National Meet in 2002. I would recognize those legs anywhere!!

1 comment:

  1. THANK you!! I feel special to be your 'guest blogger'....and I am anxiuosly awaiting the Master's Meet where I can cheer you girls on to VICTORY! I loved the moment of Freemont Street Experience when all you girls were wearing your gold medals and they were playing Queen's 'The Champions of the World!' And you girls so WERE!!! and still ARE!!!


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