Dear Synchro swimmers and families
Welcome to a new year. I trust you have all had a happy and fun holiday and are refreshed and ready for 2016. As you reflect on your family’s activities for the year I wanted to share some thoughts with you about synchro, its requirements and benefits, and about the focus of North Harbour as a club. I spoke about these at our Prize giving last year but thought I could share them more formally here.
Synchro is a sport which addresses the whole athlete; it can also be a sport of contrasts.
- Synchro requires physical and mental perseverance and resilience. - Athletes must be aerobic and anaerobically fit, strong yet very flexible, fast yet capable of endurance. It also requires mental exertion - there are hundreds (in beginner routines) and thousands of counts to remember in a routine, each associated with a specific height, movement, alignment or angle and the swimmers must remember and anticipate each of these.
- Synchro is the ultimate team sport yet uniquely individual - it requires extreme co-operation and co-ordination between 2 – 10 swimmers in a team (often while they are spinning upside down, underwater and holding their breath). On the other hand, it requires independence and selfmotivation as individual performances are not only crucial in solos and figures (figures contribute to approximately half of most routine scores) but also to team routines.
- It is artistic in the interpretation of music, and the creation of new ways of moving in water, and forming patterns and lifts and yet attention to detail and technical perfection are essential.
These skills are gradually built according to the age and stage of the swimmer and this leads to my next point; synchro is a long term sport and the skills take years to accomplish and even longer to master. The pathway is NOT ever smooth.
Given these difficulties, I have found that a special kind of swimmer is attracted to synchro, and it is an even more special one who stays. Over the (nearly 40) years I have been involved in the sport as swimmer and coach, I have seen and heard evidence that synchro swimmers are smart, confident, and self-motivated team players. Recently, I have found psychological studies of female athletes1 which confirm that successful adolescent athletes display greater self-confidence, less or decreased learning disabilities, less depression and generally have a more positive body image than their nonathletic counter-parts. On the academic front, the multitasking aspects of sport improves and enhances the athletes’ academic performances; the more complex the activities, the greater the mental stimulation and academic improvement. Synchro requires intense concentration, memory and complex multitasking, sometimes for extended periods, (not to mention the time management of fitting training into your life) and therefore the academic benefits are high.
There is also an important social dimension to the sport, (working in groups of girls of different ages and abilities, from different schools or countries towards a common goal) which is an important learning experience and beneficial to the swimmer’s EQ.
So, congratulations for selecting the most beneficial sport for your daughter, she will become fitter, more flexible and cleverer, however, synchro does not work by magic. For those who choose to compete there is a long road of hard work and commitment ahead. To succeed swimmers are required to commit time and effort with the requirements varying according to the swimmers’ levels and the goals agreed between swimmers and coaches. Attendance is critical; due to the nature of the sport, the absence of one competitive swimmer from training impacts significantly on the team’s ability to practice their routine. Swimmers need to be present and train positively. Coaches work within severe time constraints and with varied skills levels in each group and they devise trainings sessions which will deliver benefit to the swimmers only if they are performed correctly. At North Harbour we train less than the other two competitive clubs in New Zealand so “don’t count the laps; make the laps count!!!” to advance your own and your team’s performance.
I have been at North Harbour since 1997, and have noticed that the team spirit and sportsmanship of the girls and coaches have made this club a bit different. The friendships made here will last a very long time as they are based on working hard to achieve common goals and on winning and loosing together. In the past, we have been a very strong club, and we like to win. However, this is now a period of re-building to get back to the numbers and experience levels which will allow us to be in this position again. It will take effort and commitment from the girls and their families, but the rewards, I think, are worth it.
Wishing you all a happy and successful 2016 and we look forward to seeing you poolside early in February. Please remember that you are welcome to contact me with questions or concerns at any time – best to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Randolph, J. 1991 Psychoanalysis and Synchronised Swimming: and Other Writings on Art.
Toronto Lopiano, D. A. 2000 Modern History of Women in Sports. In Clinics in Sports Medicine, 19(2)