Swimming with style

The Northern Novas synchronized swimming club held its Spring Water Show Sunday at the Canada Games Centre, bringing the 2005/06 season to a close.

The Northern Novas synchronized swimming club held its Spring Water Show Sunday at the Canada Games Centre, bringing the 2005/06 season to a close.

The club’s 24 young swimmers have been working since September to learn new figures and polish their routines, and Sunday’s show was a chance to show off their skills to friends and family before they take the summer off.

However, the club’s 14 competitive swimmers won’t get a break for a while yet, with two big meets coming up in the near future.

First is the BC Sectional meet in Vancouver this weekend, and, after that, the M.A.S.Y. (Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Yukon) Challenge in Whitehorse.

“Our competitive swimmers generally go out to two or three events in a season,” said Janet Spinks, president of the Northern Novas.

The club has Tier 1 and Tier 2 teams that competed in the Yukon Championships in February and travelled to the Jean Peters Invitational in Kamloops in April.

“It’s a big time commitment for the competitive swimmers,” said coach Marilyn Young. “Because we’re a small club, if you’re competitive you’ll have to travel.”

The swimmers don’t seem to mind the long hours of practice, either. As with figure skating, every competition has required elements that swimmers must perform, combined with an artistic presentation to music.

That means routines are tailored to each event, and practiced over and over.

“It’s a lot of practice, Tuesdays and Thursdays for two and a half hours, Saturdays for an hour and Sundays for three hours, and sometimes we get an extra day as well,” said Taylor Hanna, a first-year competitive swimmer.

“It’s a pretty good group of girls, so it’s really fun.”

Swimmers can compete solo, in duets or as a team of eight.

The Novas are at a disadvantage in team contests because of their limited numbers. Both the Tier 1 and Tier 2 teams have only seven members (teams with less than eight swimmers are penalized), so they face point deductions before they even begin.

For the first time in the club’s 18-year history, the Novas will host teams from outside for the M.A.S.Y. Challenge, which is the biggest event of the year.

“We have always passed on our turn to host in the rotation,” said Young. “But now, with this great facility, we decided to use the M.A.S.Y. as our Canada Games test event.”

Approximately 160 swimmers will compete at the M.A.S.Y., from beginners in Tier 1 to advanced junior teams in Tier 5.

The natural division between junior and national level competition is Tier 6, with Tier 7 being the top level.

For the Canada Winter Games, the synchronized swimming event is high level, and smaller, with 99 swimmers from 10 provinces and Yukon (NWT and Nunavut have no teams).

Three swimmers from the Northern Novas are hoping to swim for Yukon at the Canada Games.

Iantha Greer, Chrissy Spinks and Kaitlyn Dorosz are working on their duet program (with an alternate) for next February.

There just aren’t enough advanced swimmers to put a full team routine together.

Although there isn’t much space for spectators at the Canada Games Centre pool, people are welcome to come watch the best synchronized swimming in the Territory at the M.A.S.Y. Challenge May 26 to 28.

Volunteers are needed for the event, especially a music technician. If you can help, contact Peggy Dorosz at dorosz@northwestel.net