Freshman Katherine McGowan is currently in her seventh season of competitive synchronized swimming, a sport in which swimmers perform coordinated routines to music. McGowan competes for the Westfield YMCA Aquaducks, one of only two competitive synchro teams in New Jersey. The Aquaducks qualified for nationals in 2013.
How physically demanding is synchronized swimming?
People definitely underestimate how physically demanding synchro is. We like to say that to be a synchronized swimmer, one must have the grace of a dancer, the endurance of a speed swimmer and the flexibility and strength of a gymnast. Swimming a routine is kind of like holding your breath while running up the stairs 15 times.
What is your favorite competition routine to perform?
Personally, my favorite routine is “team.” “Team” is an event where four to eight girls swim synchronized. We get to do tons of cool lifts because there are more girls swimming.
Do you want to continue competing in college?
Synchro is a very small sport and many people don’t know about it. There are only about five schools with varsity synchro teams and the rest are clubs. Hopefully, the college I will want to go to will have synchronized swimming.
What are your goals in the sport?
By the end of my senior year, I want to have made it into the top ten at nationals. It won’t be easy, but I know that with hard work and determination it can be possible.
What kinds of drills and routines occur during your practices?
Practice usually begins with 20 minutes of cardio, either in the gym or pool, to get warmed up. We then do drills such as water laps, eggbeater, which is kind of like treading, and ballet legs, where swimmers lie horizontally on the surface of the water with one leg extended vertically.
How do you balance synchronized swimming and school work?
Balancing synchro with school work is very difficult. Many swimmers have to quit because it’s too much to handle. Personally, I procrastinate a lot, so I’m working on becoming more efficient so I don’t have to stay up as late.