National Age Groups: The Desert Dolphins Were There
By Becky Thompson
This spring, the Arizona Desert Dolphins Competitive Synchronized Swimming team swam their way to a qualifying position for the U.S. National Age Group Championships in Binghamton, N.Y. Finishing with a routine score of 67.125, and bringing home a bronze medal, the Desert Dolphin athletes represented their team at the competition at the end of June.
"This is the largest synchronized swimming competition in the world, featuring over 1,000 athletes. Some of our athletes qualified for this competition last year, and this year we have added three more to the mix," said Head Coach Becky Thompson.
With the Olympics on the horizon, new interest for synchronized swimming is rising. Many of the Desert Dolphin athletes have aspirations to be an Olympian one day; others plan to continue through college, and even one, 10-year-old Olivia Ekberg, Gilbert, already knows she wants to grow up and be a synchronized swimming coach.
"I want to become a coach as soon as I'm old enough. I want to teach girls about the sport that I love so much."
Synchronized swimming combines the characteristics and skills of many sports. Watch a routine and you'll see similarities with water polo, gymnastics, ice skating and ballet.
Any athlete with a background in or a love for these sports is usually able to dive in the water and catch on very quickly. Hours of training each week have paid off for these athletes.
Smiling and sweating their way through (yes, swimmers still sweat, even in the water), they have looked forward since mid-May to representing their club and the state of Arizona in New York.
"We have worked very hard, but we know it's … worth it," says a sunburned Alexandra Metcalf, 14 of Mesa. Alexandra, along with a couple of her teammates, also participates in the City of Mesa's Guard Start program during the summer. Between synchro practice and Guard Start, these girls can spend up to 10 hours a day at the pool.
Desert Dolphins had one last competition before leaving for New York. They competed in the Grand Canyon State Games on June 20 and 21 in Mesa.
The Arizona Desert Dolphins is a non-profit 501(c)3 charitable organization based in Mesa. For more information on the Arizona Desert Dolphins team, camps and clinics visit www.azdolphins.com.