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Melanie Watkins, Alexis Solomon, Carrie Hartnett, Emily Petkovsek and Carolyne Vasconcellos. PHOTOS BY SHANNA FORTIER
Palm Coast Thursday, Jun. 23, 2011 9 years ago

Synchro Belles win state title, head to nationals

by: Andrew OBrien Contributing Writer

The Flagler County Synchro Belles won their sixth straight state championship June 12.

They perform under the water. They perform above the water. They perform solo and in pairs. But whereever the Flagler County Synchro Belles perform, they are the best in the state.

The Synchro Belles, a competitive synchronized-swimming team, won their sixth straight state championship, June 11 and June 12, in Gainesville, and will now bring their talents to Seattle, to compete in the U.S. Age Group Championships, which will take place June 25 to July 2. The Belles qualified seven routines for the national championships.

Isabella Vasconcellos, founder and coach of the Synchro Belles, said her team ended up with 242 points two weeks ago, at the Sunshine State Games. Gainesville finished in second with 215 points.

“We’ve been very solid,” Vasconcellos said. “Unfortunately, because we don’t have a lot of pool time, we cannot grow the program larger.”

Vasconcellos said the team has 32 swimmers but is forced to practice in Daytona, because of pool constraints around the county.

However, Vasconcellos said, the girls on the team are dedicated, and anything can happen.

“The only way we can (win a national championship) is to believe really big,” she said. “Resource-wise, it’s very difficult to win the title, but it’s not impossible.”

The Synchro Belles began in 2000. It began with 12 members and was mostly recreational. Now, the Synchro Belles form the top competitive synchronized-swimming team in Florida, and have another shot at a national championship. The best finish the Synchro Belles have claimed at the national meet is third place.

“We never thought the program would pick up with such a force and be so strong and successful,” Vasconcellos said. “As we move along, we’re getting better and stronger.”

Additionally, Vasconcellos said two members are graduating from the team this year, which features girls ages 5 to 18.

Melanie Watkins will be swimming for the University of Florida, and Paige Wells will be attending and swimming at The Ohio State University.

The Flagler County Synchro Belles will hold a summer program for interested swimmers beginning July 11, and it will take place three days a week. For more information, call 446-7616 or visit www.Synchro

Contact Andrew O’Brien at [email protected].

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