By Deryek Sandhu, Contributor
Have you ever wondered how synchronized swimmers keep up with the rhythm and beat of the music? It’s underwater speakers. Candice Larochelle, a third year Con-Ed student at Laurentian, answered this longstanding question of mine, and also offered insight into what went into creating Laurentian University’s first Synchronized Swim team, and their plans going forward.
“I started synchro when I was four, so this will be my seventeenth or eighteenth year doing it, and I have been coaching for eight of them,” Larochelle said. “Sudbury does have a club, but we can’t swim with them because you have to retire at eighteen. Since that wasn’t an option for us, a couple of us girls who swim and coach here decided to get together and form our own club.”
The club is still in its early days, having only been created last year but they’ve had no shortage of obstacles. As a club and not an official team, they do not receive much support from the University and have no funds for a coach, but they are doing their best to work around it by organizing fundraisers and taking the coaching responsibilities upon themselves. “We have set roles so on specific days, we have specific team members who coach and try to run on a proper schedule.”
But being a student-run club does not mean they sacrifice on quality. Candice herself is somewhat of a veteran swimmer with almost two decades of experience under her belt. Back in her hometown of Burlington, Ontario, she swam “twenty six hours a week. I competed with people from the Olympics.” And it is not just Larochelle with that kind of background. “We have six people this year who all swam nationally, so we have a pretty strong team,” she said. With that much experience and quality, prospective members certainly have a lot to gain.
The club is competing in the CUSSL (Canadian University Synchronized Swimming League), travelling all across Canada “It’s all the universities in Canada: we’re going to McGill, to Mac and to BC,” Candice listed. She went on to stress that they are looking for more recruits. “We have a novice program for people who want to get into the sport and learn what it is all about. They can also compete if they want to, even if they are new and inexperienced. And then we have a competitive program for more experienced swimmers who want to contribute more.” In addition, she talked about how the club is not looking for a particular skill level. “We have kids who come in and don’t know how to swim at all but we are happy to teach them, too.”
“There are so many great opportunities and you learn so much about yourself and the people around you,” Larochelle added when asked why people might want to join. “You make friends with people for life. Gender, age or ability has nothing to do with it; you just come out and have fun. It’s like dance, gymnastics and swimming all in one.” For those who wish to see what it is all about, the club has two water shows one in December before Christmas, and one around April – May, at the Laurentian swimming pool.
The club seems to have plans in place to ensure its continued survival. “We know some girls in grade twelve or high school who want to come to Laurentian and the goal is to get them involved in the club and hopefully have them take it forward once we graduate,” Candice explained. “We also talked about joining up with Cambrian who also have some swimmers and make a joint team.”
“Come try it,” Candice urged. “It’s not a frilly sport; it’s not just water ballet. It has a lot of freedom and creativity and is a lot of fun.”
Photo courtesy of Candice Larochelle