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.

standing all

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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claire anita

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.

medals and myr

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 🙂

medal ceremony

with medals

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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!

mariya ali love

bridge

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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Team One Goes to Vegas!

Last weekend, the athletes on Team One had the opportunity to visit Las Vegas. We had an amazing trip, doing some specialized training, seeing some inspiring shows, and bonding as a group.

Here are some of the highlights:

We got to see the synchro show at the Wynn hotel, Le Reve, and do a meet and greet with the cast!

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So many beautiful mermaids in one place 🙂
We also did a special training session with the head coach of Le Reve synchronized swimming, Dacha. She encouraged us to forget everything we know about synchronized swimming, and instead focus on our expressions and performance alone. This was a challenge; how do we forget all that we do every day? We each had to do short solos with an emotion or state of being and music as prompting. She encouraged us to connect with a feeling inside, and not to get distracted by thinking about what we were doing.

On Sunday, we did an acrobatics training session atL’Oracle Gym, with our usual acrobatics coach, performer and instructor in Le Reve, Raman. More unusually we were joined by Benoit, a synchronized swimmer in Le Reve, as well as Ross, the main character of the Cirque show Mystere. We worked both on our individual acrobatics, as well as some lift ideas for the team.

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Sunday, we tried Ariel Yoga at Shine Alternative Fitness. It is like a silk hammock….you do inversions, stretches, and strengthening.

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On Sunday night, we got to see Cirque de Soleil’s ‘O’. The performance was mesmerizing. We got to do with a meet and greet with the synchro cast:

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Monday, just before our return to Nor Cal, we did an acting class with main character and head coach of Le Reve, Didier Antoine. This was my personal favorite experience of the weekend. The session felt like a culmination of our prior experiences. It was far from reading a script. Instead, he utilized different cues and music to have us experiment with different characters. An example is trying to physically represent each of the four elements. He also developed characters for each of us…caricatures of behaviors or mannerisms he observed. One lesson was that individual differences that we may typically be self conscious about are what become most useful in the performance world. Instead of hiding these traits, he brought them out more animatedly.

Most importantly, he called on us to let go of our judgement about ourselves.

One final shot of the group:

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We enjoyed our visit, but are happy to be back in Moraga training!

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Exhibition on Saturday at SODA Aquatic Center

Hi!

FYI the US Senior National Team will be debuting their 2015 routines at the SODA Aquatic Center this upcoming Saturday, December 20, at 3:30pm.

Check out the flyer:

Christmas Show Synchro 2014

* Pictures by Rey Del Fierro Photography
* Hair and makeup by Blush School Of Makeup
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