Synchronized Swimming Works To Gain Attention

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The Ohio University Swimming and Diving team is getting some competition for pool time.

The Ohio Synchronized Swimming team uses the pool each week for practice, and the team is trying to gain more students’ attention.

Tuesday night, the team held a “meet and greet” event, opening its practice to anyone interested in joining the squad. 

The team demonstrated basic moves and led the group through two different full routines. 

While the team is non-competitive, it hopes to change that in the next couple of years.

“We’re actually going to try and get in a little bit more in touch with the OSU team and they are very, very good,” said Team Co-President Clare Volz.  “I think that part of the problem is that we advertise ourselves as being very low commitment.  I think though, that if we got the right group of girls together and really worked at it, anything is possible.”

Ohio currently has nine women’s varsity sports, compared to six on the men’s side. 

However, Team Co-President Kate Steven said she thinks the sport has a unique appeal.

“In almost all sports, it’s two teams competing against each other in one game, but in synchronized swimming it’s really about making your performance that much better,” she said. 

While it’s not a competitive sport yet at Ohio, synchronized swimming has been and will be seen at the Olympics in London this July.

The U.S. team placed fifth in the most recent Olympics in Bejing just four years ago.

Although the sport may gain recognition through the Olympics, it also is one tailored to females. 

The Olympics only allow women to compete in the sport, while men are excluded. 

Stephen Hicken, a lifeguard at the Aquatic Center and former competitive swimmer, says he thinks the sport relates better to females.

“I think it’s more along the lines of dancing.  It’s more of a majestic sport than anything else and that kind of caters more towards the feminine aspects of sports.”

Ironically, synchronized swimming was started in the U.S. by a man.

When Benjamin Franklin returned to the U.S. from a visit to London in 1724, he told friends about how he practiced “ornamental swimming” in the Thames River.

The idea eventually caught on and Franklin was later inducted to the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

As for a men’s team at Ohio, Hicken said that anything is possible.

“Every sport should have their own gender team,” he said. “You just need the right group of people that want to do it.  I think men just have to get over that gender stereotype for it to happen.”

Steven and Volz also both said that their team is open to any gender and that having male members may actually help their chances to gain more recognition. 

The team will not hold another showcase until the beginning of the fall.