Intense training stacks up for synchro team

Published 14 August 2016 (AEDT)

Synchro swimming team warm up at Maria Lenk pool at Olympic Park.

SYNCHRONISED SWIMMING: Australian athlete Rose Stackpole practices rhythmic gymnastics, pilates and free weights – this is what it takes to be a synchronised swimmer.

Although Stackpole and her eight teammates spend six hours each day training in the pool, they also spend up to three hours on land drilling routines, at the gym and practicing other sporting disciplines.

This is necessary to allow the team to develop and maintain the core and muscle strength required to compete in synchronised swimming at an international level.

“We are using everything when we compete – the core comes naturally having to hold yourself completely straight in the water but our arms and legs are also constantly moving,” she said.

“We spend time in the gym lifting weights, we do a lot of pilates, also rhythmic gymnastics for flexibility and general gym for core strength.”

The New Zealand-born Perth athlete has a big Olympic Games campaign ahead of her, representing Australia in both the team and duet events.

It may seem daunting to some to master four routines – technical and free routines in both duet and team – for Stackpole, the variety is appealing.

It just means she has to keep on top of her timings.

“Our synchronisation depends on the music; we count the whole piece the whole way through/ every single move we do has a count and every single count has a move,” Stackpole said.

“It takes a really long time and a lot of patience and precision to go through the routines.

“It’s challenging balancing the two events but I think we do well. We spend most of the time on the team routines because they tend to be riskier because you have eight people to synchronise rather than 2.”

In the duet, achieving synchronisation is much more about “feeling” than strict repetition, which Stackpole said is a nice point of difference.

However, competing in both events has provided her with complimentary skills.

“I like the feeling of having eight people, eight of my best friends with me and as I walk out I feel really safe when I’m swimming in this routine and really strong.

“But I prefer to swim the duet because I like the way it’s choreographed and the style of swimming it involves.”

After the team’s first full training in Rio, the girls are getting acquainted with the venue, the Athlete’s Village and the buzz of the Games themselves.

“Every morning I wake up and have the realisation that I’m in Rio,” she said.

“I just have little epiphanies all the time… everywhere I walk I see the Olympic rings.”

The team’s free routine is themed around Australian flora and fauna, and the music features the sound of the didgeridoo throughout.

“I love that routine. There’s a real story that we are trying to portray throughout that showcases the whole Australian environment.”

Candice Keller

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