After missing a year of competition because of COVID, Synchro Belles teams won gold medals at the Sunshine State Games and will head to the national championship in Colorado Springs on June 26 to July 3.
The Synchro Belles artistic swim team arrived at the University of Florida June 11 with hair “knoxed” and ready to compete in the 42nd annual Sunshine State Games.
The duet team of Carlysle Kline and Molly Anderson and the Junior Olympic team — which already qualified to compete at the national championship — left the campus with one gold medal each.
The duet captured the wild card and will now perform their routine at the Junior Olympic Championship held in Colorado Springs on June 26 to July 3.
Competitive swimmer Isabella Vasconcellos founded the synchronized swim team 21 years ago and was recognized as the United States Developmental Coach of the Year in 2008. Her daughter, Carolyne Vasconcellos, has since taken over as head coach.
Coach Vasconcellos focuses on developing body awareness in the initial stages of training.
The sport also requires a high level of strength and endurance, which can be daunting for the younger girls.
To avoid the trauma that can be associated with executing rigorous drills while working in, and — a large percentage of time — upside down underwater, she never forces the girls to do anything they are uncomfortable with, allowing them to go at their own pace.
A gradual and consistent introduction to the fundamentals of synchronized swimming and the support of teammates are key elements to an athlete’s success in the sport.
After losing an entire season to COVID, the athletes, who were under the age of 15 at the time, participated in virtual workouts and socially distanced practices.
Undeterred by the unusual circumstances, they went on to qualify for the Junior Olympics.
The eight girls qualified to perform in the team event during the championship are: Kayla Palomado, Aryanna DiFatta, Mariia Nosenko, Molly Anderson, Paityn Lawrence, Jordan Spence, Carlysle Kline and Michelle Pu. Emerson Kline will join the eight athletes for their combo event performance.
The combo has multiple routines being executed simultaneously: solo, duet, trio and team.
“We would not be able to do this sport if it wasn’t a team sport,” Vasconcellos said. “We never make them do anything they don’t want to do. It’s really encouragement from the girl next to them: They can be sitting there coughing up the water that they were swimming in, but they always stand up, ready for the next one thanks to that girl.”