MESA, Ariz. - Strength, agility, grace and artistry are on display by athletes from all over the country this week at the Skyline Aquatic Center in Mesa for the U.S. National Synchronized Swimming Championship.
These athletes move through the water with ease. But make no mistake -- Synchronized swimming is not easy.
"It’s a really hard sport and people don’t know,” said Natalia Vega, 17, with the Santa Clara Aqua Maids. “They just think it’s a pretty thing. We train like 10 hours a day every day.”
Every kick, splash and arm movement is specifically timed.
The National Championship includes solo competition, duets and teams. Each is judged in technical ability, artistry and performance, and also synchronization with each other and the music.
According to the synchro governing body judging information, "The competitive rules and manner of judging are similar to such sports as figure skating and gymnastics."
“You always want your routine to be something that’s just a little special and people remember it,” said Judy McGowan, president of USA Synchro. “It has a memorable moment or moments that make it stand out from the others.”
These swimmers are focused on this week’s competition. But there’s another goal on their minds as well.
“I would really like to one day be in the Olympics and represent the U.S.,” said Aspen Smith, 13, with the Arizona Desert Dolphins.
“Definitely one of my goals is to go to the Olympics,” said Nikki Dzurko, 15, with the Santa Clara Aqua Maids.
The leaders of USA Synchro see a lot of promise in these young athletes, who are ready to dive in this week in Mesa and show what they can do in a challenging sport.
“Only about one-half of 1 percent of all athletes will ever make an Olympic team, so it’s a very difficult climb,” said McGowan. “We’re hoping to be back on that podium in 2020.”
For more information on the championships this week in Mesa, click here.