Julia Palfreyman (from left)

Julia Palfreyman (from left)

Swimmers get in sync for Surrey

North Okanagan synchronized swimmers prepare for B.C. Summer Games in Surrey

Synchronized swimming might look like an easy sport, but the girls representing Thompson Okanagan Zone 2 at the B.C. Summer Games in Surrey know otherwise.

Shelby Kerr, Charlotte Barker and Julia Palfreyman, all members of the Vernon Silhouettes, along with Lumby’s Taylor Sexsmith, a member of the North Okanagan Synchro Stars, will join Kelowna’s Zoe Roberts and Hannah Ruste at the Games, which start Thursday.

Synchro uses a combination of dance, gymnastics and swimming, all carried out with precision in the pool.

“Routines are scored on technical merit and artistic impression, so any synchro swimmer has to be creative, yet technically strong,” said Silhouettes’ coach Katie Dick, who will also head the Zone 2 team.

Competitors perform entirely under their own power, using their feet doing eggbeater, or their hands for sculling. Even when they are upside down in the water, they do not touch the bottom of the pool. Some swimmers can be upside down holding their breathing upwards of a full minute.

Kerr, Barker, Palfreyman and Sexsmith all started synchro together four years ago, and Dick has been impressed with their development.

“The girls have improved so much in the past year alone,” she said. “They are no longer doing the basic skills you learn in the recreation program offered at the Vernon Recreation Centre. The girls just keep trying and learning new, harder things and are good at it.”

The synchro sixpack qualified for Summer Games in December by performing the mandatory figures set out by Synchro B.C. at a meet at the Vernon Recreation Centre.

“A couple of the figures, especially Kip, were slightly beyond the girls’ abilities; however, their figures are looking stronger, higher out of the water and more controlled because of all their hard work and long hours in the pool,” said Dick.

“These six girls have only been swimming together for the past four weeks, and have created a fantastic routine that includes technically difficult skills that include boosts, lifts and complex hybrid figures.”

The girls have been working diligently over the last six weeks to perfect their routine, whose theme is school’s out. They train six days a week.

In addition to the team competition, Kerr will perform a solo, and Barker and Palfreyman a duo.