On a crisp weekend in Montreal, the Memorial Pool heated up as eight universities converged to participate in the McGill Invitational Synchronized Swimming meet. While the Invitational does not contribute to national rankings, all teams were eager to set the tone for the rest of the year and gauge their skills after a long off-season.
“The Invitational was an opportunity to develop sharpness and [endurance],” Head Coach Erica Messore said.
The event also highlighted the fantastic work the Martlets had put in over the off-season as McGill was the highest ranked team in four of the seven events they participated in. This was a welcome departure from last year, when the Martlets saw their streak of eight consecutive CUSSL (Canadian University Synchronized Swimming League) championships cut short and were forced to settle for second place.
The team has set a high standard for itself and the season ahead, which is unsurprising given the longstanding precedent of success that it has enjoyed. Despite the team’s achievements, the the Martlets are determined not to rest on their laurels.
“We won [Nationals] eight times in a row when I first came here,” player-coach Hannah Ungar said. ‘‘We have a new coach who has brought in a lot of new knowledge and energy [to the side and] everyone is working so hard.”
The event was received with much excitement, as the crowd was treated to athletic flips and tightly choreographed dance routines performed to a variety of musical genres, including electronic dance music (EDM), hip-hop, and pop. The University of Ottawa had the most intricate costumes and styled their performance off of Baz Lurhmann’s rendition of the Great Gatsby.
Despite the presence of flashy competitors, McGill proved to be the most successful team in attendance. The McGill White team narrowly edged out the John Abbott College A’s with an energetic performance that garnered 65.500 points in front of a full capacity crowd to earn the best senior team performance. Senior performer Carrie Mouck came first in the solo event with a captivating routine that earned the highest score of the Invitational with 66.5000 points. Mirroring the performance of the seniors, the novice team placed first in both the team event with 53.8333 points, and the solo event with 55.5000 points. McGill placed fourth in the duets & trios competition and second in the Novices duets & trios competition.
According to Ungar, the journey back to a Gerry Dubrule Trophy is underway, but is still in the stages of infancy.
“Immediately, we are looking to increase fitness and endurance,” Ungar explained. “We have a really good thing for our routine right now, good music selection, good choreography, [but we need to continue] practicing our routines over and over again to really achieve that top level.”
Next semester, the synchronized swimming team will take part in the Eastern Canadian Championships and the CUSSL Championship. After such a bright start to the season, and with more months of practice to come, McGill Synchronized Swimming is well placed to continue its history of success. There will be another opportunity to watch this excellent squad at McGill in February, when the team performs at the McGill Water Show in Memorial Pool.