Variety Village's syncronized swimming teams warm up with some water flexing

Scarborough, all in sync

It may be hard to walk on water, but try dancing in it.

Scarborough’s Variety Village Recreation Centre’s national and junior synchronized swimming teams make it look effortless.

The front end of a synchro routine is amazing to watch, but it takes hard work, a lot of practice and long hours to achieve the final product.

“They practice five days a week,” Julie Scanlan, coach of the 13-15 B team, said. “On Saturday it’s five hours and Sunday is seven hours.”

The long practices do not just consist of working on the routines in the water, but also include land programs like Zumba classes. Scanlan says they take Zumba classes because it allows the girls to feel the beat of the music, coordinate dance skills and get a good cardio workout.

“They don’t get a lot of time in the water doing laps because of pool space, so this is a great way for them to do cardio exercise,” Scanlan said.

The goal for the synchro teams it is to prepare for competitions. Scanlan says the Variety Village teams participate in six to eight competitions. Right now they are preparing for the Provincial Championships at Etobicoke Olympium Pool on Friday, Feb. 22. If the teams win at the upcoming provincials, they will be number one in the province.

A routine is built for the whole year. Judges provide feedback at the various competitions, which the team uses to alter their routine.

“The routine at the beginning of the year looks totally different than at the end of the year,” Scanlan said. “The end of the year is usually a lot more difficult, stronger looking, than the beginning.”

Scanlan said the competitions also include a duet and solo category. “Those are usually given to the top girls on each team,” she said.

Amy Armstrong, 15, has been synchronize swimming for 11 years. This year she is a soloist, junior soloist, and on the duet for the team.

“She’s one of our superstars,” Scanlan said.

Armstrong says as a kid she took swimming lessons and watched the synchro team. “I always thought it looked cool and stuff,” Armstrong said.

Last year Armstrong was a member of the Canadian national team.

“I would like to make the Junior National team and maybe the Olympics one day,” Armstrong said.

Right now Armstrong is working on her solo and duet for the provincials at the end of the month.

One of the synchro teams shows off their flying moves
One of the synchro teams shows off their flying moves (Madolyn MacCallum/Toronto Observer)