Saturday’s Synchronized Swimming Invitational brought fierce competition and excellent choreography in front of a packed audience at McGill’s Memorial Pool. The overflowing bleachers—full of family, friends, and fans—radiated excitement and anticipation for McGill’s 12-time Canadian University Synchro Swim League (CUSSL) title winning White Team. McGill dominated the invitational, walking away with high scores to accompany their high spirits. Still, the stiff competition demonstrated that the Martlets cannot rest on their laurels looking forward into the season.
The first portion of the meet presented graceful solos, duets and novice routines—each team’s performance offered the crowd a unique display of elegant athleticism. With a competitor in nearly every bracket, the Martlets hardly left the pool, and were able to keep the McGill spirit strong. The team competition in particular brought out the collective character of the sport.
While technically impressive, the performances were also extremely entertaining. The flow of smart and innovative pop culture references added to the energized atmosphere throughout the hall. The Carleton Raven’s Bring it On-themed routine incorporated stunting reminiscent of cheerleading, while John Abbott College’s hip hop-inspired routine exuded swagger and creativity.
When the Martlets finally took the deck, the stands went wild. McGill began their routine with intricate deck-work to the Lion King’s “Circle of Life” before diving two-by-two into the deep. The team, swimming into their first lap, performed smooth and energetic choreography. Their graceful routine saw McGill first form a symmetrical base for their gravity-defying highlight—it set the stage for their intricate canons of pointed toes in suspended leg extensions. Their near-perfect piece earned the team an impressive score of 65.6, with 32.5 points for technique and 33.1 points for style and artistry.
While the Invitational was a fantastic showing of hard work and talent, it does not contribute points towards the national rankings. Nevertheless, the competition was a great way for the swimmers to celebrate the sport and perfect their technique before the real deal in the winter semester. McGill’s Assistant Coach Hannah Ungar noted that there is more analytical fine-tuning that the team must do before upcoming competitions.
“What you’ve seen today is the beginning stages of the routine,” Ungar explained. “We [later] go through every piece of the routine and do a lot of work with the mirror so the girls can see [if they are uniformed].”
The team will also go through rigorous pool, dry land, and cross training that the team goes through in order to develop their skills to their full potential.
Martlet Head Coach Lindsay Duncan expressed tremendous pride in the team’s development and direction.
“They started out the season as individual swimmers with their own individual strengths, and more than any team that I’ve seen since I came to McGill […] they’ve really come together,” Duncan said. “So now it’s not stand-out individuals here and there—they pull together and swim well as a unit, and that’s really what it’s all about.”
The Martlet synchronized swimming team will continue to prepare for their competition in February at the Eastern Canadian Championships in Guelph, Ontario. While Duncan expects a tough test, she is confident that her team will walk away victorious.
“The calibre of the competition across different schools is getting better every single year, and so we have to step up our game,” Duncan said. “There are more and more teams that are in the running for medal positions at Nationals. So it’s the usual type of preparation, to be ready to have their absolute best swim. I think they can do it [and] have their best performance in the end.”