In Synchro

In+Synchro

Photo courtesy of Claire Dempsey

Sofia Freed, Staff Writer

Junior Claire Dempsey spends

most of her time in the pool

practicing for hours at a

time. But she’s not swimming

laps. She’s synchronized swimming,

an elaborate hybrid of swimming,

dancing, and gymnastics where

swimmers perform a synchronized

routine of moves in the water.

“I started synchro when I was in

first grade and I have been doing it for

ten years,¨ Dempsey said.

For Dempsey, participating

in a not so common sport has made

the bond with her teammates even

stronger. With such an intense

sport she spends many hours with

her team perfecting their moves for

competitions.

“We practice 2.5 hours Tuesday

and Thursday and another 3-hour

practice Saturday and Sunday,”

Dempsey said.

Before competitions, their

practices increase.

“On weekends we would have 3

to 4 hours of practice in the morning,

take a break, and go back in the

afternoon for a few more hours,”

Dempsey said.

The long practices have added

lots of stress, especially with the heavy

workload in school.

“I wouldn’t get home until

10 p.m., and I was so exhausted

it was difficult to do homework,”

Dempsey said. “It is such a big-time

commitment, so you really have to

love the sport.”

In order to continue and do well

in school, she had to learn to manage

her time.

“I had to find time to prioritize

school, but also realize that I can’t

always do it all. Sometimes it’s okay to

miss a practice,” Dempsey said.

All the practices weren’t for

nothing. The team competes in many

competitions all over the United

States.

“In March all the teams in

the southern US would compete,”

Dempsey said. “In the summer we

qualified for the Junior Olympics,

which is the national-level

competition.”

In order to get to nationals,

they compete in state tournaments in

Dallas and Houston.

“At the state competition, our

trio got first in the state and I just

remember everyone was jumping

up and down super happy and it

felt really good, it was a really pure

moment,” Dempsey said. “We had put

in so much work and it really felt like

it paid off.”

Synchronized swimming has

been a big part of Dempsey’s life and

she wishes to pursue it after high

school.

“Ideally I would like to do

synchronized swimming in college,

but it’s really hard to find colleges that

have teams, and the ones that do are

really difficult,” Dempsey said. “But

I’d definitely like to coach because

it’s just been part of my life for such a

long time.”

Last year Dempsey was injured

at a competition and was forced to

take a break from the sport.

“At regionals, my teammates

were doing these things called lifts,

where people stack on top of each

other and the person on top jumps

off,” Dempsey said. “I didn’t see one of

them, and they landed right on top of

me. I just started crying and I couldn’t

stop. I competed, which I don’t really

remember and for the next couple of

hours I was really dizzy.”

A few days later after continued

dizziness and mood swings, Dempsey

went to the doctor and discovered she

had a concussion.

“It really threw my life because

I missed finals week, and I had been

practicing all year for the Junior

Olympics, and then I couldn’t

compete,” Dempsey said.

Although Dempsey has taken

some time off in order to properly

heal, she plans on returning better

and more determined than ever.

“I’m definitely coming back,

but it feels like I haven’t really left,”

Dempsey said.