Junior Takes on Synchronized Swimming

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Image by Shannon Steidel

Giana Thompson is a member of the synchronized swimming team The Austin Angelfish

When most people think of water sports, what usually comes to mind are activities popularized by the Olympics and entertainment: swimming and diving, surfing, perhaps even water polo.

One physical activity that is often looked over however, is a performance sport that combines theater, dance and exact timing in a choreographed pool routine: synchronized swimming.

“I joined the Austin Angelfish when I was 8 because I wanted to be on swim team,” junior Giana Thompson said. “My mom found them and took me to a practice. I was really scared because I had never seen it before and I didn’t want to get in the water. My mom and grandparents pushed me in the water and I feel like I’ve never come back out.”

Thompson has been doing synchronized swimming for nine years and doesn’t plan on quitting anytime soon. Between school and being on The Sapphire Dancers, it’s sometimes difficult to squeeze in rehearsal at the pool, but she makes time for it. Like every sports team, synchro requires a lot of practice and dedication.

“We practice at night on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays and some Saturdays,” Thompson said. “We usually land-drill our routines, which is just moving our arms in place of our legs so that we know the moves in our heads. Then we get in the water and, depending on the time of the season, we either do a short warm up or a medium-length work-out. This includes stroke laps and working on basic Synchronized Swimming skills. Then we work on our routines for the rest of practice.”

They perform at competitions all around Texas, and occasionally travel around the country to compete against other synchro swim teams. She spends so much time with the team that she even refers to them as her “sisters” and has had many good experiences with them.

“There are a lot of inside jokes on my team,” Thompson said. “One of the best is a move that we came up with that we ‘suggested’ to our coach when she could not come up with anything to do. Well, one practice, she was in a really good mood so we decided to put this move into one of the things we did in the routine. We did, and then, on the underwater microphone, we heard silence. When we came to the wall after the swim, our coach was in tears from laughing so hard and we felt really good that we had been able to make her laugh like that.”

For all interested, practices are at the JCC 6:30-9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and the Townlake YMCA 5:30-8:30 p.m. Sundays.