Carlie Cholette competing at Montpetit Hall for Gee-Gees synchronized swimming team. Photo Courtesy of Dan Robichaud.
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Cholette joins varsity swimming team after four championships with synchro team

After several years with the Gee-Gees synchronized swimming team, Carlie Cholette is taking it up a notch as she gets ready for 2018-19 with the varsity swim team.

Joining the team in March, Cholette, a national champion with the synchro team, will have a busy year coming up balancing synchro with school and now varsity swimming.

“I’m still going to do synchro and swim,” she said. “We’ll see how that goes. I’m not saying I love swimming more than I love synchro, but it’s a great change, and if I’d known that I’d like it this much years ago, I think I would’ve made the switch.”

Cholette, who is also the twice-consecutive Gee-Gees Club Athlete of the Year, said she started synchro many years ago when she was just seven after a friend got her into it.

Now 23 and heading into her fourth year at the University of Ottawa, she’s been doing synchro ever since.

In November 2017, she tried out for the Olympic synchro team, unsuccessfully.

This was never going to discourage her though. She said she has always taken synchro pretty seriously, and before practice she would often go in the water to get some swimming in, since the synchro team doesn’t get as much pool time.

“I’d go in an hour before practice and just do laps. It turned out the swim team had their practice at the same time, and I noticed Dave from the swim team, and I was interested,” she said. “It looked like a challenge, and I have a great feel for the water. It’s second nature to me.”

She said from there she contacted head swimming coach Dave Heinbuch, despite not being a strictly speed swimmer, saying she was up for the challenge.

This was how she started the process of joining the team. While initially not on the team, she trained with them until after the U Sports national championship in February, when she officially joined the squad.

She said the move to varsity swimming has brought some notable challenges, particularly when it comes to keeping up with the speed of it.

“I’m trying to go as fast as them, and trying to keep up,” she said. “That’s the biggest challenge, and you have to qualify within certain times. I have no qualifying times … I’ve never done swimming before, and that’s definitely a big challenge for me.”

While she’s in her fourth year at the U of O, it’s just her first year of eligibility for varsity, meaning potentially four more years of swimming with the Gee-Gees.

“If I’m successful this year and I see improvement, I want to keep going for sure,” Cholette said. “I have to start applying for a Master’s, and I might just take a few courses at (the U of O) just to swim.”

In terms of goals for the upcoming season, she’s thinking pragmatically.

“I’m trying to be as realistic possible. I think I need a full season of just training with the team before I can actually have a qualifying time,” she said. “I did compete this summer, and there was quite the difference between the first meet and the second meet. I mean I think the sky’s the limit. I can get better, but realistically I would need a full year of training before I can qualify for such competition and meets.”

With Cholette’s stellar contributions to the synchro squad, it’s worth watching what this Gee-Gee will do on the varsity scene.

The swim season starts Oct. 12 as the Gee-Gees will go up against RSEQ teams for the first meet hosted by the University of Sherbrooke.