Saturday, May 26, 2007

Synchronized Supporting

Guess where I was tonight. Go on, guess. I dare ya.

I'm guessing that you could make 50 - no, 100 - no 300 guesses, and you wouldn't come up with the Canadian Synchronized Swimming Championships.

What can I say? Nobody is more surprised than I was to find myself there, but what are you gonna do? We're intensely devoted to our nieces and nephews, and will take any opportunity to spend time with them or support them, expecially the ones who live out-of-province.

I don't know that "synchro" would've been the pursuit I would've chosen for my dear niece (I am much more comfortable, for a myriad of reasons, with her younger sister's competitive, uh, racing-type swimming), but darn it, this is what she's chosen and she's passionate about it, and when her Ontario-based team made the National Championships, which are being hosted in Saint John this year, in the "15-and-under" category, there wasn't any way we weren't going to be there (along with her paternal grandmother, Mom O), cheering her on. That's our little duckling circled in red, there.

What an incredibly bizarre evening. From the scores of pubescent girls in stage makeup and false eyelashes doing splits - upside down (!) - to some unbelievably odd musical choices (Donna Summers' "Hot Stuff"? What was that coach thinking?) to seeing our own sweetie after the competition, still in her eyeshadow, lipstick and false eyelashes, it was like some kind of weird maternal out-of-body experience. For his part, Husband just squirmed in excruciating discomfort the whole time.

Of course, the payoff was after she'd competed and she came out to visit with us before we parted, she to go to her hotel with her mom and us to drive back to Fredericton. She was so genuinely happy that we'd come to watch that it was all worth it. Her team didn't win a place in tomorrow's finals, alas; but the main thing seems to be that right now she is hugely enjoying doing this. My initial worry about her taking up this sport -- (it is less a sport than an art, IMO, like figure skating or dance, which I believe should all be categorized together; but regardless, all take a great deal of discipline and remarkable physicality, and there is no doubt synchro demands incredible muscle control, coordination and lung capacity) -- anyway, as I was saying, my worries were mostly inspired by what I knew about other "pretty girl" sports, like figure skating, gymnastics and cheerleading - sports where looks are paramount and body image issues are legion. I was so relieved tonight to see that all the competitors looked very healthy, and to my surprise several of them were what might be described as "heavy" or "chubby".

In case you're tracking trends in synchronized swimming (and I know many of my readers are, intently), the hot trend is towards fierce grrrls. The picture of my niece's team notwithstanding, most teams flashed far fewer of the Miss America vaseline-toothed smiles; no, the majority of the teams at this event were displaying fierce girl-power scowls at the judges.

It's way late and I'm way tired, but I am so glad we went. Seeing her little face light up and watching her glow in the light of our praise and admiration for all her hard work was so worth it.




Blogger Xtreme English said...

Lucky niece to have her doting aunt & uncle in the audience!! my future sister-in-law was in the synchronized swimming team at the U of Minnesota, and only the true athletes survive. it might look pretty, but it's damn tough!

8:08 p.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

Hi M.E. - you're right about only the true athletes surviving - the things those kids do --- while holding their breath for minutes on end --- are incredible!

Apparently she's so good that she may be tracked into a special program next year where she goes to school half-days and practices synchro half-days. Good heavens. Perhaps someday we'll see her little, pink, nose-clamped nose on the Canadian Olympic team. More importantly - by far - can you get a syncronized swimming scholarship to a top University???


9:23 p.m.  
Blogger mrsnesbitt said...

Hmmm know the feeling! I am a doting Aunt to 3 nephews....spoil them rotten too!

10:54 a.m.  
Blogger Brent McKee said...

You can't get athletic scholarships in Canada - at least not the sort of full ride scholarships that you see in the US colleges. They're against CIS (Canadian Intercollegiate Sports) regulations. There are some US Colleges that have Synchro teams - Minnesota, Michigan, Richmond are the ones cited in Wikipedia - and thanks to Title 9 (which mandates equal funding for men's and women's sports) there are probably scholarships from US schools.

3:19 p.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

Wow, Brent, that is really interesting!!! Thanks for the background - I had no idea that Canadian unis didn't do full scholarships.

Your discovery sure led to some mixed feelings on my part...! I'm biased but I'd sure prefer she go to University in Canada. Ah well, as we say in Newfoundland, it's a short road that's got no turns, and the possibility she'd qualify for a scholarship in a pool that includes the entire USA is a pretty remote possibility - phew!


8:23 p.m.  

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