When I first began my foray into competitive swimming, ten or so years ago, synchronized swimming was nothing more than annoying background music and girls in shiny swim suits. Even as I grew older and more mature, it remained a backdrop to my “real swimming” endeavors, in and around the pool. I’d like to think that I was mature enough to recognize that synchro was a challenge to the girls that participated in it, but I doubt I was able to truly separate myself from the condescending attitudes of my peers.
It was not until years later – this very January – when I was blessed with the opportunity to begin anew my relationship with synchronized swimming and its collective family of swimmers, coaches, and parents. I was asked to photograph the local team’s invitational meet. Leading up to the meet, I met and grew friendly with the current swimmers, and coaches (all of whom were former synchro swimmers, and several of whom I had known for years prior). At the meet…my eyes were truly opened. I witnessed the true artistry, athleticism, and passion that make up synchronized swimming. I photographed moments of true beauty, and moments of companionship that I hope will stay with the girls and their families forever.
After that weekend, my interest was piqued: whenever I had a spare moment at the pool, I spent it in the deep end with the synchro team; some days, with camera in hand, and others just watching and learning. In fact, it was this period of fascination and awe that somehow drove me to…in fact…participate with them! I sort of liken the decision to the boy who cried wolf: for the period of time when I was burdened with my condescending, superior attitude to the team, I joked with the coaches about “letting me try out!” Over and over I bugged them – and eventually one day, it turned serious. They offered to write me a solo, and teach me their ways. And so, while it often resulted in derisive laughter from my friends and family, I began my personal adventure into the depths of synchronized swimming.
I got to laugh alongside the swimmers and coaches as the swimmers went from this:
To this: And everything in-between: It gave me no end of laughs, and as the girls got to know me better, they felt in their rights to laugh at me, and my faults and failings. But in the end, no amounts of laughing, crying, or thunder, were going to stop the Water Show from happening yesterday evening. The girls were on point – nailing lifts and throws, matching (as best as my untrained eyes could tell) formations and timing, and in general, just putting on an excellent, highly technical and emotional show: Even some of the coaches took part in the festivities: something few other sports (and even other synchro teams) are able to do. And then there was moi… I had an excellent time. I hope I demonstrated for all the girls, my friends, and the younglings that I coach that doing something you find fun is all that’s really important. Stay true to yourself – other people’s opinions don’t really matter. Getting in the water to practice synchro was the first time in YEARS that I had actually been excited to get in the pool, and in all honesty was loads of fun.
My actual solo performance? Yeah you bet I was a little nervous – there were more people watching then I expected, but it didn’t go poorly at all! If you’re on Facebook and want to check out the hilarity: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=591266154348334&id=1821433187&ref=bookmark
Best Regards, and remember to have fun!