Sunday, July 18, 2010

The World of Synchronized Swimming....

I recently revisited the world of Synchronized Swimming.....a sport that was a huge part of my life for nearly a dozen years! The city of Irving and The Pirouettes of Texas hosted the US Open Synchronized Swimming Championships July 15-17 at the North Lake College Natatorium. Eight countries were represented including Canada, China, Dominican Republic, Great Britain, Korea and Mexico as well as teams from all over the United States!

It was interesting to see all the posted information in several languages. Notice the sign "No Gelling PLEASE." If you are not familiar with Synchronized Swimming you may not know how the athletes keep their hair all neat and tidy during the competitions. GELL! Knox Unflavored Gelatin! Mix about 3 packets of that to 1/2 cup of boiling water.....stir til smooth and apply with a paintbrush to  hair which has been put up in a ponytail and braided or twisted into a bun, pinned securely and covered with a hair net which is pinned yet  again!  (You need LOTS and LOTS of bobby pins!) There is a real art to 'Knoxing' as we call it! It is a bit like sculpture and a bit like making candy! Timing is crucial! There is a magic moment when the gel is cool enough to apply and yet hot enough to comb back smoothly from the forehead after you get all the hair covered well. A good Knox job will last through a couple of swims. It IS a bit messy and can be very uncomfortable for the swimmers.....especially if you drip it down their neck and it DRIES and then they turn their can PULL the skin painfully! This can take awhile for the inexperienced! However by the time you reach this level of competition one is amazed at how swiftly and deftly it can be done! There is also the problem of messing up the bathrooms with all the hairnets, bobby pins and rubber bands and the GOOK of the gell itself! I noticed the City of Irving had set up portable bathroom buildings aptly labeled "Gelling Station." All this gell can be washed out in really warm water and is actually GOOD for the hair!
This is my daughter, Amber, who swan for 11 years....please note the excellent hair gelling!
The girls swim to a wonderful array of different music and wear beautiful suits ablaze with sequins, crystals, and jewels that catch the light as they swim!

This is Team TEXAS and they are ready to practice!
Now they are ready to compete!
There were nearly 200 athletes at this competition!
Amazing lifts....the water is deep and NO SWIMMER touches the bottom at any time! They boost a swimmer up by egg beater-ing with their legs. It is exciting to watch these athletes!
She is standing on other swimmers who are supporting her but NOT touching the bottom of the pool....they move constantly and there is never a dull moment!
There are lifts and throws and pattern changes.....pretty awesome!

This is my good friend, Candie, who is the scoring chairman. A huge amount of work is required to get the scores accurately recorded! Did I mention it was ABOVE 100 degrees during this meet?
These swimmers are from Team Alberta in Canada and they could not believe this is NORMAL Texas temps! Note the lady on the right behind me in sunglasses....she was the 1984 Olympian silver medalist.....USA's Tracy Ruiz won Gold! To learn more about the history of Synchronized Swimming go to
A LOT of work AND expense goes into hosting a meet of this caliber and on this scale! Walter is in charge of so MUCH in the city of Irving! He has a ton of responsibilities!
And a host of special people from guards to the most important person of all.......the one I did NOT get a photo of.....THE MEET MANAGER!!! Beth Evans! She did a splendid job and is probably still asleep as I type this! She had to be one TIRED lady!

I will end this post with my all time favorite pic of my all time favorite team....The Pirouettes of Texas....and my ALL TIME favorite swimmer....Amber! I saw several teams doing similar lifts at the recent meet. This pic was taken at a National Meet in 2002. I would recognize those legs anywhere!!


Anonymous said...

hi Linda! this was great reading. I had never heard about Synchro until Amber & I became pen-pals during that time!! it was so much fun learning about the sport and watching all the pics. i still have the above pic of Amber's legs!! :) Fiji does not have anything of this sort...i guess the closest thing we'd have to it is ballet, he he :) good job!


Linda said...

Thanks, Joan! Synchro is a combination of ballet and gymnastics and swimming all rolled into one with a splash of color and music. It is my favorite sport! I am so happy we have kept in touch all these years! The world can be a small place when you connect with people! I so admire you, Joan, and the lovely lady you are! God bless you and give you the desires of your heart!

Amber said...

LOVE this post! will have to "guest post" it on my blog as well. still get nostalgic every time, i miss the water. glad you got to see the meet!

Unknown said...

Looks like you all had a good time. And the gel thing is funny - makes me want to put some on my hair!