Olympic ‘Syncro’ swimmers visit New Canaan Y
Published 2:58 pm, Tuesday, May 3, 2016
NEW CANAAN — It’s a little-known sport, but in New Canaan it proved to have a big following.
A couple hundred people visited the Y Saturday afternoon to watch two Olympic competitors take to the water in a sport that marries art with athletics.
Anita Alvarez and Mariya Koroleva, who spent three days in town training at the facility, culminated their stay with performance samples of their aquatic ballet. The women also gave time to share inspiration and technique tips with the younger students who are part of the Y’s renowned team.
“I think coming here is a great opportunity for us,” said Alvarez, 19, a New York state native who will compete in the 2016 Olympics “syncro.”
“We always say it’s a combination of swimming, dancing and gymnastics,” said Koroleva, 26, a Russian native and American team veteran who will be partnered with Alvarez.
“You become a very well-rounded athlete,” she said, “plus I think the performance aspect is always neat.”
“Our U.S. Olympic duet has been in the New York area for a couple of events,” said Jennifer Muzyk, program director of synchronized swimming at the Y.
“They wanted a place to train,” she said, “and we wanted to get more exposure for the sport, so this is a great avenue to do that.”
“We have 77 competitive members, all girls,” Muzyk said. “We’ll take boys but we just don’t have them.”
Still, according to Stamford-based physical trainer Bill Thompson, who works with many of the young people, “It’s the best team on the east coast.”
A former ballet dancer, he noted the unique facets of the syncro. “It’s a combination of strength, flexibility and artistry,” he said. “There’s not a lot of sports that have that.”
“They’re ballerinas in the water,” he said.
“It’s really good for the girls,” said Joyce Wu of Fairfield, whose daughter participates on the team. “And this team is great.”
“This is a team sport, so they learn how to work out as a team,” she said. “That’s a great skill.”
“I really love the teamwork that comes along with it,” said Lauren Laporta, 9, of Westport. “And I love how we’re all swimming together, like one unified machine.”
“I’ve seen the little girls practicing and I’ve always been kind of fascinated by it,” said Jennifer Prescott of New Canaan, who came to see the show. “I didn’t want to miss it.”
“I wish they had a class for adults,” she said.