National Team Trials Phases I/II

After our first figure meet came National Team Trials in Santa Clara, California. Between having 5 athletes across two different phases and two different Age Groups, this was quite a four-day marathon. Luckily, I got to room with former National Team Teammate Leah Pinette, Head Coach of ANA Synchro.

Gianna (12&Under) and Aubrie (13-15) competed in Phase I for their Age Groups. Grades testing was very competitive and although the athletes performed well, both were exactly 5 points shy of minimum required to move forward and finished their Trials journey here. This is a good experience for these athletes to learn that the way they train every minute of practice counts. Synchronized Swimming is a very difficult sport and if one can master being mindful of small details throughout training, they will be able to apply the same knowledge to any aspect of their lives.

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Dyeon and MJ competed in Phase II in the 13-15 category. This is Dyeon’s first year in 13-15, and she is actually only 12! She did not qualify into the top 30, but congratulations to her for completing the Trials training process and getting the experience. MJ just made it into the top 30 and after adding routine and skills stayed put. Congratulations to MJ Schoel for making it to Phase III of National Team Trials! It was one of the most competitive fields ever.

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Here we have MJ getting her legs marked so the judges can see her height upside down. She is wearing a blue flower in her hair in memory of Anastasiya, a Sac Synchro swimmer that passed away three years ago.

 

Juna Park competed in Phase II in the 12&Under category. She had strong performances in figures, skills, and routine to end up a solid 6th place overall. Congratulations Juna! Quite an improvement from 33rd last year! Not only does this qualify her for Phase III, but her placement suggests that if she keeps working hard, she may have a chance to qualify for the team and/or swim the team program at the UANA competition.

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All in all, it was a great experience. Thanks so much to the Sac Synchro Coaches who make it all happen.

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Learn about our Sac Synchro Coaches.

 

 

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First Figure Meet

Sacramento Synchro competed in their first figure meet at the beginning of January with some incredible results. I have to admit I was a bit anxious. Of course I trust the training plan we’ve implemented, but there is nothing like seeing good results on paper compared to the other teams to confirm we are on the right track.

Notable achievements include Erin Maeng winning the 10&Under Age Group (from a 37.223 at this meet last year to a 49.333). It was the sweetest phone call I ever had to tell her about her first place result. I’ll never forget the way she said “Really????” when I told her she won. She said “That’s never happened to me before!!” I explained to her that it didn’t happen to her, she created it herself!

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Juna Park won the 11-12 Age Group category with a 59.0756, up from a 53.9955 last year. It is quite unusual for an athlete not from Santa Clara or Walnut Creek to top the scoreboard. Other noteworthy improvements were Gianna Bonacorsco (46.4356 → 53.9956) and Tara Batt (39.5021 in intermediate figures to a 51.4814). Congratulations to Mana, Tennille, and Ellie for competing in their first meet with Sac Synchro.

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Hired!

Well, I am past due on sharing the news that I have been hired as the Head Coach of Sacramento Synchronized Swim Team!

Here’s you know, us:

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I could not be more excited to be here. This opportunity presented itself at the perfect time. After floating around Los Angeles for a few months post-Rio, I was ready for my next project to focus on. I am grateful to Sonia Susac and Robin Mizell for having the vision to bring me in, and to Myriam Glez for making me aware of the opening and providing a strong reference for the position.

Sacramento Synchro started in 1985 and just celebrated their 30 year anniversary. There is quite a rich legacy. I feel honored to be a part of it. Furthermore, we have just transitioned facilities from a local high school to Arden Hills Country Club. Arden Hills was founded as a tennis and swimming club in 1954 by Sherm Chavoor, who trained Mark Spitz leading up to his 7-gold-medal run in the 1972 Olympics! I feel inspired just being there. It is filled with photos of Olympians who have trained there (33 medals total – 22 of them gold!) and the member’s lounge is covered with newspaper articles from Arden Hills athletics over the years.

It has been a huge transition to a new role . But, I can see how everything I have done in my Synchro career up until now has prepared me exactly for this role. It feels like coming home.

Thank you Sacramento Synchro and thank you Arden Hills!

Visit Sacramento Synchro’s new website at sacsynchro.com. And Arden Hills (the swimming page is under maintenance but we will get up there soon!)

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Day 1 Training in Toronto

Our first full day in Toronto was action packed! We got off to an early morning start, in a nice quiet dining room. Generally, the South American countries prefer a later start, so I don’t expect to see them in the 6 o’clock hour.

Our first training session was in the competition pool. We got to do a lot of tech duet and tech team. During duet practice with music, the power went out! At first, we waited, thinking it would only take a minute or two. Then we started practicing with counts. It ended up being 20 minutes until we could begin again.

I found myself feeling a little bit scattered and had to shake it off and focus. It was a good opportunity to experience a blip in the plan. What if I had to wait 20 minutes on competition day? Now I have this experience to refer to and know exactly how to handle it!

During team, we only had a few minutes left to finish our swimthrough with music. Usually, we stand in a circle and review things and do a cheer before performing. Our coaches told us to go before we were finished. We talked about it after, and discussed how if we are low on time we need to just set up and start.

In the afternoon, we had another chance. Our coach told us we had 15 seconds until the music started. All 9 of immediately put our hands in the center for a quick team cheer, turned, and hit our pose. We did a much better job accommodating the schedule change.

I guess the theme of the day was time. Being flexible to handle both delay and rush.

After dinner, team physio Thomas helped several of us stay limber. Here is a picture of him helping me stretch out my hips:

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Bring it on Day 2!!

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Happy July 4 from the Pan American Games!!!

After catching a red-eye flight, we arrived to Toronto!! Can’t think of a better way to spend the 4th of July then at Pan American Games processing with Team USA. This competition comes every four years in the year before the Olympics. The 2011 Guadalajara event was my favorite meet ever.

Processing involves checking in and picking up some official USA gear. Here is a picture of us in our new Nike swag:

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After processing we headed to the Village where we completed a quick debriefing with Team USA staff. The village is like a mini Olympic village. There are several high rises housing athletes, coaches, staff, etc.

This giant decal is an example of all the patriotic decorations around:

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My personal favorite part is the dining hall! The food selection is excellent, so many fresh, healthy options.

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After lunch we had a great first training session at the pool.

Much more to come!!

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Silver Medal for Ali, Mariya at China Open

Feels like just last week the duet squad was at its first competition in France!! After coming back, focusing on team in preparation for US Nationals, and taking a brief Spring Break, it was already time to head to Shaoxing. We were invited to this competition by the head coach of the Chinese National Team, Mayuko Fujiki. She was also the head coach of Team USA in the 2011-2012 seasons, so Mariya and I were very excited to see her. The event was Chinese Nationals, and this was the first year they invited any outside countries to participate, making it the very first China Open.

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In France, I was focused on not making any mistakes and performing the same way I had been at practice. Time seemed to move very slowly, and each and every practice and routine swim so deliberate and calculated.

This felt like a polar opposite. One day we were at practice in Moraga, the next it was time to compete in Shaoxing. Mariya and I had very little time to prep together compared to French Open. The theme of this preparation period and performance, for me personally, was “confidence”. I felt like that was something I could improve on, and would affect all areas of my swimming. Luckily, that is one my duet partners greatest skills, so all I had to do was hop on her wavelength!

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Our swims overall felt pretty strong…this was confirmed by our coach Myriam. Going into finals, we had a rough warmup. I had a few major synchronization errors during music time. Between warmup and competition, I knew I had to stay out of my head. I needed to be confident in myself and my ability to listen to the music and go with my duet partner. I couldn’t overthink things..or I would definitely make a mistake.

I stayed true without second guessing, and did it right! We had a strong finals swim, and I was really proud of both myself and Mariya. I reconfirmed that I am the creator of my own reality, and in a situation where I had total control, I took the wheel and made it happen. I was both in the moment and in the flow.

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It was pretty exciting winning a silver medal. It was more exciting swimming well. It is interesting how others notice the former, and the latter is something you just know inside your heart. In ten years, I will remember how I performed, the memories I made with the people I was with, and getting to do what I loved. But the silver medal is nice too 🙂

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The day after competition concluded, Myriam, Mariya, Linda and I got to explore the city a bit with some of the translators showing us around. It was great getting to explore China a bit!

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Now, Mariya, Anita and I are the duet squad moving forward to World Championships in Kazan, Russia. More hard work ahead, for both duet and team!! Next stop, US Opens, in Long Island, New York.

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French Open Tech Duet Competition Preparation

The duet training squad leaves for French Open on Monday!! As part of our preparation, we did a competition simulation. This means we get up extra early, knox our hair, wear makeup, and costumes. We also replicate the warmup we plan to do at the meet, including the amount of music time, and also having to wait before we actually “compete”.

Claire compared it to taking the SAT, not only do you need to know the information, you have to know how to take the test. For synchro, not only do you need to show up with your routine, you have to know how to prepare to perform.

Here is Claire and I just before we “competed”:

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I think the biggest thing I am personally working on is staying completely focused in the present moment. This is much more difficult with added distractions, like costumes, waiting, other competitors, etc.

It was really cool seeing the universe conspire to help me stay present. For example, during land warmup, I had a fluke head to head collision with a teammate. As I walked to the restroom, I could feel my mind’s wheel’s turning, taking the opportunity to begin worrying about anything and everything. Right then the swim coach called out, “I can’t wait to see you guys perform!!”. It cut the tension like a knife, I had to smile. My mind silenced, I was grounded and back in the present.

It happened several more times that day, later, at workout, a brief touch and a “good work” from a teammate, and a “hey mermaid!” from a gym employee. Each experience kind of brought me back to reality.

Here is the plan I follow to stay present:

1. Recognize the initial negative thought pattern of getting stuck in your head – being somewhere else is never going to help you figure out now!
2. Openly ask the universe to help you stay grounded in the present moment
3. Stay open to the signs and signals

In other news, we did a pretty cool photoshoot with Aaron Okayama.
Here is one of the pics:

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The rest are posted on my Athlete Page.
Be sure to hit ‘Like’ for Ali Williams while you are there! 🙂

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