One Ticket Please!

An account of the Junior Worlds Synchronised Swimming  Championship in Kazan

Written by Corina Presser.

Taking my seat in the stands as the sole Aussie supporter amongst Mexicans, Russians, Japanese, Italians and even Kiwis, I was overwhelmed when our girls took their turn to walk out on deck on Day 1.

Do I take photo’s or film it, do I watch or cheer, I manage to do all, even enticing a Russian supporter to follow my Aussie Aussie Aussie with her Oiya Oiya Oiya, it had an effect, I can see through my camera lens Keira looks determined.

Boom Boom Cha, Boom Boom Cha, Queen’s opening chords resonate through the crowd. Having been a fly on the wall for this team for the past 6 months I anticipate the first lift. Freddy sings, Rachel flies off Hannah’s shoulders as both are pushed out of the water by the coordinated strength of the girls underneath.

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For me, my husband and my son, 8 years of travel, training, costumes, hairpins, team mates, billeting, competitions, injuries, fees, late dinners in the car on the way home, time off work, time off school, volunteering and learning about this sport, is all worth this moment…seeing my daughter on the big screen at the same time as the rest of the world.

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 L- R: Alexandra, Rachel, Hannah, Jessica, Gabbi, Jane, Keira, Kirsten.

 

Back again this time hiding in a sea of red, white and green….green! Seriously who has green in their flag? I watch in awe at the mayhem that is warmup, teams are literally swimming over each other. The judges come out, Combo prelim begins.

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Russia is flawless and graceful, China is clean and dynamic

America is energetic and playful, Japan is strong and precise.

Each country demonstrates the athleticism it takes to compete in this sport at this level, and that they are all under 18 and they are all GIRLS.

Despite most of our team being sick, they show off their Indian inspired routine. The costumes are beautifully designed by Meadore and the sequinning alone should receive high scores. The coach Brianna looks happy, however the score and rank are short of their goal, but the girls are still pleased. If figures go well they will perform the pre swim on finals night.

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L-R   Jody, Erica, Kirsten, Keira, Alexandra, Kazia, Hannah, Tamilla, Jane, Rachel.

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As a parent watching figures is like watching paint dry, as a new judge it’s a great learning experience. With over 240 athletes, 4 panels of 6 – 7 judges are required, even then it takes more than 6 hours to view all competitors.

Marina Kholod is Australia’s only representative, herself a former Olympic athlete in this sport, a National coach at the 2012 Olympics,  and a leading designer with Meadore, a major sponsor for both the Australian junior and senior national teams. If her assessment is successful she will qualify as a level B judge and then in the future aims to be judging at an Olympics. Now that will be a trifecta!

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The difference in the level of training is obvious for the top nations, is it due to greater support, perhaps, but it is also attainable.

For the 5 minutes I am allowed, I wedge my way to the front of the stands, I am going to make sure I capture our girls pre swim, everyone else is here for the host nation. The top 5 teams don’t disappoint. Russia 1st China 2nd Japan 3rd. While the winners have their photos’ taken with coaches, judges and officials, our girls take over the stage and pose for photo’s and selfies. For them it’s all about getting here and being here.

What does it take to put together 3 girls from Sydney, 2 girls from the Gold Coast, and 7 girls from 2 clubs in Perth? A lot of interstate flying, training camps and commitment. Confidence not only in their coaches Brianna and Marina, but with each other, with all those who have been involved in this journey. Vicki their manager, family, friends, club team mates, admin from club state and national levels, their schools and universities, and the confidence they have seen in our senior girls.

In less than 2 weeks the Australian National team will be competing at the Olympics in Rio, they know they are proudly supported. Each of these girls and their families would have a story to tell of how they got there, and why.

In less than 2 years the Junior Worlds will come to Perth W.A. Preparations will have begun.

I asked Rachel how the competition has affected her. “is this what you want?” I don’t get an answer I get a look….. another ticket please.