When I was nine, my best friend brought me to her synchronized swimming show, and I’ve been in love with the sport ever since. I quickly joined the local club, and swam with them for the next eight years; although the sport is very expensive to participate in, my parents understood my dedication to it, and never hesitated to sign me up at the beginning of each season.
When heading to Western in 2015, I was saddened to learn that the school did not have a synchro team that I could join. However, London does have a synchronized swimming club, so I had applied to coach there hoping it would be an adequate substitute.
At my first coaches meeting, I made a comment to my boss – a PhD candidate at Western – about being disappointed I was unable to swim this year. She excitedly told me that there in fact was a team I could swim on; she had found several other girls at the school that wanted to continue in the sport, and they had been training and competing through the London Synchro Club for the last two years.
All of the girls on the team were like me – individuals who had loved the sport for years, and knew they couldn’t give it up. It was a great way to meet students from other years, programs, and parts of the country. However, as the team was not sanctioned by the school, there were many drawbacks. Pool time was expensive, and therefore we had very little practice time. Additionally, it was at pools far from the school, which were difficult to get to if you didn’t have a car.
By my second practice I enquired why we weren’t sanctioned by the school. I was told that the girls had sent an application in two years ago but were declined quickly, and suspected it was because the team that the school had supported over a half a decade earlier had folded. This confused me, as I wondered why we were blamed for individuals that ran the club while we were all still in high school?
I soon initiated the team’s second application process in January 2016. The entire team came together to formulate a convincing (and very large) application, which included letters of support from the Canadian University Synchronized Swimming League, the London Synchro Club, and Synchro Ontario. We were exceedingly satisfied with the result.
Unfortunately, we still have yet to receive a response from the school. However, we have not stopped in our various endeavours to convince them. This experience has taught me a great deal about perseverance; until now, I never had to fight to participate in the sport. My parents could always see the joy it brought me, and recognized the various benefits to it. I am now learning how to advocate for what I believe in, even if I encounter failure along the way. Hopefully we are successful with our efforts this season!
If you would like to know more, read this article written by the Western Gazette: http://www.westerngazette.ca/synchronized-swimming-a-team-without-a-school/article_0a40a418-94ae-11e6-98d3-3bafd2a96d31.html
Photos courtesy of Ralph Buchal