Competitive club claims first place title in the team, duet, and solo events

The University of Ottawa’s synchronized swimming competitive club achieved its best-ever result at the Canadian University Synchronized Swimming league’s national championship at McGill on Feb. 24 and 25. Not only did the team take home the John Drake trophy for placing first in the varsity team event, they also finished first in the varsity duet and varsity solo events.

This was the second year in a row that the Gees have taken home the John Drake trophy, and the first year that they took home all three major varsity awards.

Fourth-year student Marie Albert, who competed in the team and duet events, said that last year they came into the national championship as underdogs, while this year they dominated every competition they participated in.

“Last year we did not win at the eastern division competition, and we did not win in the prelim competition, and so winning the final competition was very exciting. This year we won every single competition.”

Head coach Katie Simanzik explained that coming up with the winning routine is a collaborative process that involves all of the girls.

“A lot of the creativity comes from them and I play a role in organizing the routine, making sure everything makes sense, that each part has a purpose. I’m trying to remember what the judges are looking for when they’re going to be watching that routine and sort of bringing that perspective back to them.”

Albert said that even once the routine is done, it’s still constantly being tweaked and adapted.

“We do the same routine for the full year, but after easterns we changed a few things. We adjusted some things that needed to be changed to make it even better. So it was the same routine but with a few things that were different.”

For freshman Carlie Cholette, this year marked her first time back in the pool since 2013. But she didn’t show any signs of rust in the competition itself, as she came first in the team event, the duet event with Albert, and the solo event.

“I actually tried out for our Olympic team, and that didn’t go so well, so I decided not to swim for three years,” explained Cholette. “Didn’t really expect anything much but I decided to swim all three routines … and ended up winning all three at nationals.”

Cholette said that of her three wins, her solo win was the sweetest, since she only came third at that event in the eastern championship.

“We changed a few things in my routine to make it more technical, cause that’s what the judges were looking for in the first competition,” said Cholette. “I was not happy about that result and I worked my butt off in and outside the pool … I was going for gold at nationals, and I did it. So it means a lot.”

Albert is graduating this year, but said that if she returns to do a masters she would definitely compete again. Cholette plans to continue swimming for the Gees, but still hopes to one day compete on the international stage.

“I definitely want to swim again next year, whether it’s for the national team or the university,” said Cholette. “I just want to keep swimming, like Dory would say.”