It seems there are about 1,000 different sports for kids to try out these days. Now there are a 1,001 as synchronized swimming is an emerging option for a group of middle schoolers in the Brookline area.
Before they get near a pool, they spend time practicing ballet, gymnastics, and do a lot of stretching.
That’s one of the reasons it appeals to Anastasia Semyannikova, a 7th grader from Brookline. “I think that it’s kind of a mix of sports, so you don’t get to one, you get to do multiple of them.”
Synchronized swimming is a competitive sport that is more popular abroad than it is in the United States. It’s part of the summer Olympics, and that’s how it caught the eye of Anouk Pierce-Borras, a 6th grader from Brookline.
“When they had the last Olympics, I was just like wow, I really want to do that. It looks like so much fun,” said Pierce-Borras. “My favorite team is the Spanish team . . . the makeup, the hair . . . everything that they do was just so beautiful.”
About a year ago, about a dozen girls started training and competing, with help from coaches Tatiana Lisovitskaya and Jamie Olken-Pokharel, who swam on the team at Wheaton College.
“We’ve had a lot of interest. We’ve also had a lot of success,” said Olken-Pokharel. “We went to one competition last year, one novice competition and we did incredibly well. We won a couple of events.”
For many of us, synchronized swimming is associated with Esther William’s glamorous movies from the 1940’s and 1950s. It looks pretty, but it’s hard work.
Lisovitskaya explained, “It’s gymnastics, choreography, and it brings together basically all the strength and endurance which helps them in the water.”
The girls swim laps to build up that endurance. And they practice dance routines on land, to perfect their timing.
Then it’s into the pool where they spin, flip, swim and dance. It’s fun, but it’s also stressful, according to Pierce-Borras. “We are working on a routine right now, and I am just constantly checking to see what they are doing because I am just like oh, am I a beat too fast, or a beat too slow, or what am I doing right now?”
9-year-old Mila Platkove from Needham works with the older girls and also has a solo routine. “It is pretty hard, but I would recommend it for people who like dancing and gymnastics.
And who are ready for a workout.