NEW CANAAN — Seated in a YMCA conference room across the table from the smiles of her mother and her coach, synchronized swimmer Emma Tchakmakjian is soft-spoken and humble.

The 14-year-old former Saxe Middle School student never brings up her accomplishments, instead allowing her mother, Evelina Dragneva, and her coach, Krista Bessinger, to fill in the blanks of her resume.

Most recently, the longtime competing member of the YMCA Aquianas was named the second-youngest member of the U.S. Senior National Synchronized Swimming Team.

She will spend the next four years in Moraga, Calif., training for the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan. The Olympics have been a dream of hers since she was 5 years old. The elite assignment marks a historic moment for the YMCA’s widely respected synchro program.

Emma, her mother and her coach met with the New Canaan News last week to talk about Tchakmakjian’s accomplishments and her momentous next step toward the 2020 Olympic Games.

Q: How did you get into synchro?

Emma Tchakmakjian: When I was little, like 5 years old, my mom saw Krista and started talking about synchro. She asked how old you had to be to start, and Krista said I could start then.

Q: How are you able to balance training and school?

ET: Last year at school, I would study at lunch and I would stay up really late to study after my practice because I usually got home around 9:30 p.m. and then wake up really early in the morning. Sometimes, I would stay up to 12 a.m. and wake up 5 a.m., so it would be very little sleep but I was able to do it.

Evelina Dragneva: She trains anywhere from 30 to 35 hours a week, and it’s every single day, Monday through Sunday. She doesn’t really have a day off.

Krista Bessinger: She talks about how long she practices — and she does, nonstop. But she really is happy when she’s training. And she really is that driven.

Q: Has making the Olympics been a longtime dream of yours?

ET: Ever since I was 5, but I just didn’t know what sport at that age. But by 7, I knew I wanted to go for synchro.

KB: She is the most successful Aquiana that we’ve ever had and the first to come up through our program that has been selected to the Senior National Team. This is amazing for our team. It’s unprecedented, but that’s Emma.

Q: What will your schedule be like now that you’re heading to California? How long will you be there?

ET: We’re going to practice every day from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and after practice you do homeschooling, online. So that’s where you study. It’s a four-year commitment.

Q: When will you find out if you’ve made the Olympics?

ET: The U.S. team has to qualify for the Olympics in 2019. So that’s when you find out if you’re actually going to the Olympics.

Q: What is it like being second-youngest on the team?

ET: Well, I never really thought that I’d be on the same team with the Olympic duet going to Rio this year, or one of the members of the Olympic duet from 2012. So it’s kind of cool because I never expected that when I was a young child.

Q: What did the selection process entail?

ET: The team’s high performance director sent an email saying we want you to try out. I was scared.

It was a three-day trial in April. They test you on all different components, acrobatics, normal physical stuff like push-ups, flexibility, speed swimming, lifts. They also determe where you are in lifts. You can be the flyer, the base or the people pushing. And they taught us routines and tested us on our imagination. So you had to create a routine on the spot. They’re going to train me to be the flyer.

ED: This is not an accident that Emma made the team. She’s was on the National Team when she was 11 and 12, and she’s currently on the 13- to 15-year-old National Team that is going to compete in Israel next month.

Q: How many people are generally in the pool for a routine?

ET: You can have a solo, a duet, or a team which consists of four to eight people. We had eight at the Y. And then a combo, which is 10 people. I have all those routines, so I could be by myself or with nine other people.

Q: Do you prefer to be alone in the pool or with your teammates?

ET: I like them all differently. Solo I like to express myself, but I like working with other people and getting all the qualities of teamwork.

I feel like there’s more pressure when you’re alone because everybody is only watching you. But with the team you have so much more happiness and drive because you’re like, ‘I’m working together will all these people, let’s do it together.’

justin.papp@scni.com; newcanaannewsonline.com