Meeting Team Canada
When I was 7 years old I joined recreational synchronized swimming at the YMCA in September. When I turned 8 in February the competitive coach asked me to join her team; I fell in love with the sport instantly. Before hand I was in gymnastics and acrobatics so I was already flexible, I flew threw my swimming lessons, and I had fairly good endurance from playing soccer since I was 4. All of these skills (and so many more) were needed for synchronized swimming. I had never felt challenged like this with anything else.
For those of you who don't know, synchronized swimming is (in the simplest terms) a combination of gymnastics and dance in the water. What makes it hard, however, is that you aren't allowed to touch the bottom of the pool or else you are disqualified. It takes amazing muscle power to keep 50-80% of your body above water at all times, phenomenal breath control to be able to spend 60-75% of three and a half minutes straight under the water, but also grace to make sure in all of this that you don't make a splash.
I swam from 8 years old to 12 years old. The summer before returning when I was 12, I broke the growth plate in my left wrist and was unable to swim for a while. I was in a cast for 9 weeks and then had to do physiotherapy afterward. It was so devastating. All the competitions I attended, all the high performance camps I had qualified for, all the hours I put in the pool all came to a head when I wasn't allowed to swim. Junior team Canada was less than 4 years down the road (I had already met the coach at my high performance camps the past two years and she was very interested in me trying out) and now I was down for the count.
When I was 14 I was FINALLY able to go back swimming (two years is a long time to let a darn wrist heal). My dreams of making it big as a synchronized swimmer were long gone, but I still had an amazing love for the sport and for my old team mates. The year I was 17, our provincial tournament was at the Etobicoke Olympium. As a treat to the swimmers at the competition, the directors had team Canada swim their routine for everyone! The team then was going to be at the competition banquet to hand out awards and take photos. We were gutted to realize that the banquet was on Sunday. Being that we had a 9 hour drive a head of us, we couldn't stick around until 5pm on Sunday.
My team mate (thank the heavens) is fluent in French and so snuck out of the bleachers and went up to the captain of Team Canada (who only speaks French) and gave our huge sob story about not being able to attend the banquet because we live so far away. Our team was called out of the bleachers, where everyone from every other team was forced to sit until team Canada had safely exited. Thanks to this team mate, we were the only swimmers at the entire competition who were able to get a photo with team Canada while they were still wearing their bathing suits! As if that wasn't enough, the coach explained to us that we were the first people ever to have photos with the team in these bathing suits at all since they hadn't yet gone to the Pan Am games for the year (eek!).
(I am in between the girl in the plain red bathing suit and the girl with the purple bathing suit and top knot; we did have matching bathing suits for our routine, as it is mandatory, but this photo was taken on the first day of the competition which is deemed only for practice and getting a feel for the pool)
I will hold this picture close to me for absolutely forever and cherish this memory for as long as I live.
Thanks for reading, xo, Katelyn.