OCEANSIDE — The annual synchronized swimming exhibition is a half century tradition at the Marshall Street Swim Center. Kids ages 9 to 12 perform solo and duet routines as a program fundraiser.
A rigorous four-week, noncompetitive program readies swimmers for the exhibition.
“It has now become a wonderful tradition,” Molly Alvarado, city aquatic technician, said.
Kids learn water-based moves and set them to music. Some equate the sport to gymnastic dance routines done in the pool.
Whole group instruction takes place three times a week. Routine groups meet two additional times a week.
“We teach our participants a variety of moves and encourage them to write their own three-minute routines to perform at our show,” Alvarado said.
Some basic moves kids work to master are “sculls” hand movements to propel the body, “eggbeater” rotation of one leg in a clockwise manner and the other in a counterclockwise manner, and positions.
Common positions include the “crane” in which the head is underwater, one leg is straight up and the other is at a 90-degree angle in front of the swimmer below the surface; and the “ballet leg” in which both legs are straight up, the swimmer’s back is at a 45-degree angle and the face is above the surface.
Kids must be at the Sea Star swim level to participate. Prerequisite skills include performing the front crawl with rhythmic side breathing, familiarity with the back crawl, dolphin kick, back stroke kick, knee dive from the pool deck and safety skills.
Synchronized swimming instruction furthers swimming skills.
This year 13 children participated in the program and performed a dozen routines in front of a crowd of more than 100 on July 29.
A series of bake sales, $3 admission to the exhibition and a raffle of business donated items on the night of the performance help fund the program.
“The show serves not only as our main exhibition, but also as our main fundraiser to keep the program afloat,” Alvarado said. “This year we raised just under $1,000 and the program cost us just over $600, which was fantastic.”
The program originally lasted eight weeks, but was shortened to mirror students’ summer break period.
“We at Marshall Street Swim Center and the Parks and Rec Department of the city of Oceanside intend on keeping this tradition alive as long as possible,” Alvarado said.
The Oceanside synchronized swimming program dates back 51 years.
The sport originated 93 years ago.
Benefits of synchronized swimming include memorization skills, physical flexibility, increased aerobic capacity, lung capacity and stamina, endurance, strength, discipline, team building and emotional health.