An in-depth look at a competitive club’s path to the podium
The University of Ottawa novice synchronized swim team won the national championship at Brock University, competing in a series of events from Feb. 16-18. The competitive club hasn’t looked back.
Inter-university meets fall under the Canadian University Synchronized Swimming League (CUSSL). This year, the club had 29 members and three teams.
The club is divided between competitive and novice, for the most part; the competitive swimmers have been swimming for more than five years, and the novice club usually has less experience in the pool. A member of the novice team, Meighan Kerr, explained their routine, saying, “It’s a two-minute routine, we’ve been training all year for it, starting in September, the only thing you do is you train and choreograph the routine, and you swim it over and over again until it’s perfected.”
The combination of art and sport together makes this event quite unique. For the novice team this can be a bit tougher with less experience in the sport. “We rely a lot on our coach to do the choreography,” said Kerr.
According to Kerr, there are also certain elements that the league wishes to see in the choreography to get ranked better. “The artistic side is more of the use of your arms, how you interpret the music with your choreography, so ours was a Pirates of the Caribbean theme,” she explained.
This is all combined with holding your breath underwater while you try to perform a certain figure. A big part of this sport is the process of progressing from the start of the year to the end result. “It is really cool because you create this together, it is my definition of a team sport because if one of us couldn’t swim then the routine wouldn’t be the same.”
The club has seen success, but faces some challenges; namely, the fact that because they aren’t a varsity team, they don’t receive funding from the U of O.
This year, the novice team won Nationals after finishing first at the Eastern Championship in Sudbury. Kerr admits that the team was surprised because of past results that did not live up to this years’ finish. However, all teams who participate in the Eastern championship quality for nationals. “It was really special to win nationals this year because for a lot of the girls this will be their last year swimming,” said Kerr. “Four out of the six members on our team were in their last year, so their last competition and including our coach as well.”
The upcoming year will definitely be a transition for the squad. This year they did not receive varsity club status through the university, but they will be hoping to receive funding in the future, winning a national championship has no choice but to help their cause.