Making a splash

Queen’s synchro captain Alex Cross discusses the sport’s intricacies

Queen’s synchro captain Alex Cross says her team is best at artistic elements.
Queen’s synchro captain Alex Cross says her team is best at artistic elements.

It takes more than just good judgment to make synchronized swimming look effortless.

“It’s a lot of mind power,” said Queen’s synchro captain Alex Cross. “In a routine, it would be easy to go up [for air] and give up, but you need to use your mind to make yourself stay underwater.”

Team members must be in synch with one another mentally and physically.

“[It’s] knowing your team is going through the exact same thing at the same time,” Cross said. “You don’t want to let them down.”

In synchro, much of the unseen work is performed under the surface.

Among the several technical challenges are staying underwater for minutes at a time and battling the mental urge to resurface.

“Overall, it’s just working that endurance so that you can finish that routine without looking exhausted.”

Swimmers must keep their eyes open underwater and use underwater speakers to help them keep in rhythm to achieve a harmonized routine.

If a swimmer notices that someone is off, there’s a system in place to correct it.

“You make a beeping noise underwater and we’re actually able to hear that,” Cross said. “You make a double beep and [everyone checks] to make sure they’re on count.”

The strength of the team depends largely on teamwork — more so than other sports. The sport looks like a medley of swimming, ballet and gymnastics, intermingling grace and precision to a musical number.

That cohesiveness was on display last Sunday when Queen’s hosted 10 interuniversity teams for the 2013 Canadian University Synchro Swim League (CUSSL) Eastern Canadian Divisional.

Queen’s has the country’s largest synchro team, with 38 members split into five teams.

Queen’s Yellow team posted the Gaels’ best result, placing fifth in the team event after competing to a mix of Kanye West songs.

Cross said the previously self-coached Yellow team will welcome second-year student Xenia Reinfels as head coach.

On Sunday, the Gaels finished fifth and sixth in both the Team and Novice Team events. McGill claimed the overall team title, while McMaster won the novice competition.

Cross said in competition, judges look for various factors in a team’s routine, both technical and artistic.

According to Cross, Queen’s is strongest at artistic elements.

“Artistic is more fun for us to work on, but technical is equally as important in terms of the final rankings.”

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