Synch or Swim?

The 12th FINA/ESYNCHRO World Junior Championships take place downtown this weekend.

Earlier this month NUVO was invited to go for a dip with the junior National Synchronized Swimming team, to participate in the Synch or Swim Challenge. I synched.

The invitation came as part of a promotion for the World Championships, which will be held at the IUPUI Natatorium Aug. 11 — 15.

I was able to coax Eva Pilgrim from Fox 59 News out to the pool as well; failure is always more fun with two. As you can see in the video, this stuff is pretty hard.

The girls showed us a couple of basic moves; the first was an out-to-in cycling motion with my legs, while being positioned like I was sitting in a chair. When done correctly, it’s a much smoother method of treading water which enables a full range of motion with the upper body. When done incorrectly, as seen in the video, you get a tummy full of chlorine.

The second move was a lot of fun, and I was actually able to do a respectable job for an out-of-shape first-timer. Utilizing the first move while underwater, you make a “wax-on-wax-off” horizontal motion with your arms, and then spring up out of the water, as if you had something to lift off of. It’s a pretty awesome feeling to get a little height out of the pool without having been able to push off from anything. They had me add in a little up-and-down choreographed motion with the arms after the move, which left me looking more like I was being attacked by an alligator than dancing.

The third move was the one that put me over the edge, and left me truly exhausted and gasping for air. After attempting the third move, just breathing and treading water was a laborious challenge. It works like this: you tread water on your back, then fold up at the waist and touch your toes. Obviously at this point, you sink—which for someone like me, especially when you’re already gasping for air—is impossible to maintain smoothly. Ideally, your legs stand straight out of the water, as if you’re doing a handstand, with nothing to hold yourself up on.

It is mind boggling that these teenage girls are able to have that kind of total body strength and balance.

By the time we were asked to get into formation and put it all together into a routine—as you can see—I was wasted. I mostly just treaded water and got in the way. If they ever need someone to do that on their team, I’m the man for the job. If you watch the girl next to me during the routine, she just gives up because she kept bumping into me and was laughing too hard to finish.

I’ve suffered many athletic shortcomings in my life, but this is by far the most epic.

But that’s not even the worst of it. After the cameras were off I challenged the girls to a cannonball contest, AND LOST! Pool FAIL to the extreme. But at least I got to keep my official Team USA swim cap, and those sweet goggles.

I had a blast with the team, and they were extremely gracious, bright young ladies. I’d like to thank all of them for having us out to interrupt their morning practice, and having a go at the fools’ errand of teaching me the basics of their craft. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and all of us at NUVO wish them the best of luck this weekend.

And a special thanks to Lauren Nicholson, who was a great sport fielding my ridiculous questions.

For more information on synchronized swimming and this weekend’s events, click here or visit

Video shot and edited by Ryan McCracken

  • The 12th FINA/ESYNCHRO World Junior Championships take place downtown this weekend.
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