Swimmers in sync

Hair was gelled and noses were clipped on Saturday as the Whitehorse Northern Novas welcomed a small contingent from Juneau for the 2007 Yukon…

Hair was gelled and noses were clipped on Saturday as the Whitehorse Northern Novas welcomed a small contingent from Juneau for the 2007 Yukon Synchronized Swimming Championships.

The event marks the end of the competitive season for the majority of the Northern Novas – it’s the last chance to impress the judges this season.

With limited swimmers in most categories, the Novas and Juneau’s Aurora Knights were mostly trying for personal bests.

The only category with head-to-head competition was the Duet routines in Tier 2, won by the Novas’ Taylor Hanna and Simone Kitchen.

For the more competitive Novas, (Hanna and Kitchen and Tier 4 duet Kelsey Metropolit and Chrissy Spinks) the competitive season continues with the MASY Challenge in mid-May and the BC Sectional Championships after that.

It’s been a hectic year for synchro in the Yukon, especially for Metropolit and Spinks, who ended up competing at the Canada Games at the last minute.

The pair had to jump from Tier 4 to Tier 7 just to enter, and faced the best swimmers in Canada.

“It was fierce competition, but I’m really glad I did I,” said Metropolit. “I really learned a lot.”

Hosting the Canada Games brought a lot of media attention to the Novas, and coach Aura-Lea Harper said she’s seen an increase in interest from both spectators and new participants since the Games.

“It really brought us out, we were kind of hidden before.”

The Juneau team, led by former Novas’ coach Jami Eistetter — brought just four young swimmers, all first-time competitors.

Eistetter said Juneau swimmers face the same problems that Whitehorse teams face.

It’s tough to compete in the sport from such a remote place. And with only one pool, practice time is limited.

So when a swimmer from such a remote place makes a splash on the national scene, it’s a big deal.

The Juneau Aurora Knights’ Koko Urata, who gave an exhilarating solo performance on Saturday, (not in competition) is making just that kind of splash.

After an impressive 11th place finish for her figures and a strong duet performance at the US junior nationals in March, the 17-year-old is in contention for a spot on the US junior national team.

Coming to Whitehorse brought back a lot of memories for the Juneau swimmer, who’s been in synchro for seven years, and competing seriously for four.

“I had my very first competition here, at the old pool,” said Urata, who hopes to continue with a synchronized swimming scholarship at the collegiate level.

She admits that the competition is cutthroat at the top, and her next few meets will be crucial.

“It’s not like basketball, where you can have your pick of schools,” she said. “There’s only a few schools that have teams, and only like 20 scholarships in the whole country.”

Results:

Routines – solo

Tier 1

1st Bernadette Osborne,

Juneau Aurora Knights

Tier 2

1st Elizabeth Streeter-Zenk,

Juneau Aurora Knights

Routines – duets

Tier 2

1st Taylor Hanna, Simone

Kitchen, Northern Novas

2nd Aidie Gonwa, Dana

Bogotka, Juneau

Aurora Knights

Tier 4

1st Kelsey Metropolit, Chrissy

Spinks, Northern Novas

Routines – teams

Tier 1

1st Northern Novas (Kylie

Budzinski, Ashtyn Gibbs, Jane

Robinson-Boivin, Sophia

Topper)

Tier 2

1st Northern Novas (Olivia

Duncan, Taylor Hanna,

Samantha Henney, Simone

Kitchen, Katie Link,

Kelsey White)

Figures

Tier 1

1st Sophie Topper,

Northern Novas

2nd Bernadette Osborne,

Juneau Aurora Knights

3rd Jane Robinson-Boivin,

Northern Novas

Tier 2

1st Simone Kitchen,

Northern Novas

2nd Taylor Hanna,

Northern Novas

3rd Katie Link,

Northern Novas

Tier 4

1st Chrissy Spinks,

Northern Novas

2nd Kelsey Metropolit,

Northern Novas