Coming off a flawless 6-0 dual season, swimmers eye success at section and state
St. Louis Park synchronized swimming turns its attention from the dual meet portion of the season towards sections and eventually the state meet at the Freeman Aquatic Center on the University of Minnesota campus May 25-26.
The Orioles put together another strong dual-meet portion of the season posting a 6-0 record with senior captains Emma Breyak and Emma Dietz leading the way.
In synchro, the swimmers not only have to learn and refine a routine or specific moves but also come up with their own choreography and music out of the pool, making for a rather significant time commitment.
“We have less girls come out than in the past so we’ve had some things to overcome but I feel like we are a really strong team and things have been going really well and we’re ahead of schedule – writing and learning the choreography,” Dietz said as they put the final touches on routines leading up to the dress rehearsal/show performance, an exhibition event at the high school pool on May 16.
Dual meets are broken down into two categories, figures and routines.
Figures is the individual aspect of the meet where each swimmer completes specific moves in front of a judge to score points based on skills. Routines are choreographed routines set to music in either solo, duet, trio or group formats across three divisions based on time length, short long and extended.
The time commitment and mental strength it takes to execute not only in the pool, which is pretty daunting to the average swimmer, to everything leading up to being in the pool makes one only those highly committed to the sport finding success.
“It’s a lot of doing the work in your freetime instead of when you are scheduled to do it,” Dietz said as they put in 3 1/2 hours in the pool each weekday on non-competition days (that includes learning the routine on the deck before entering the water), plus the time outside the pool and even more time on Saturdays to average 24 hours a week devoted to the program. “It’s a sport that should be done over a (school) year that we try to get done in three months.”
One move they’ve worked the most on to improve this season is called egg beaters, the leg movement used to rise the torso out of the water. “It’s what we do to keep our body high (above the water) because in past years we’ve been better at other things and that was lacking so we’re just trying to bring that up along with the other things,” Breyak said.
When comparing synchro to dance team, there are two major differences.
“In dance you get to breath,” Dietz explained. “You can see the whole time, we can’t wear goggles so you’re blind some of the time.
“Also, figuring out things when you’re upside down, it really gets you sometimes.”
Breyak added that touching the bottom of the pool isn’t allowed and “Gravity is different underwater.”
So what makes someone come out of the team?
“The good thing is the team we have,” Breyak said. “Everyone loves each other and we’re all supper supportive. We’re all pretty close.”
Being together so much, “we 100 percent know how to get each other up,” Dietz explained ahead of each performance. “We just have a really great time with it.”
Coach Linda Gust said a cohesive team is a must in a sport like synchro where timing and cooperation is imperative.
“It’s really helpful when everyone gets along well,” she said. “And this is a particularly positive, really hardworking group and so that of course makes it so much easier for them to get the routine down.
“It’s been a really good season so far.”
This is Dietz fourth season with the program and explained she eased herself into the team starting with the short program and moving along to become one of the top scores on the team as a senior this spring.
“Most sports you run laps or swim laps, it’s so boring but with this it looks cool,” Dietz said.
Routines are scored on a 0-10 scale with 5-6 being the average and a 7-8 being the highest they’ve seen at the high school level.
They began the in-pool work in March and as of May 1 completed the memorization of all of their respective routines to be used in sections and perhaps state.
“Some people learn faster than others,” Breyak said with some swimmers taking until sections to have it down completely while others seem to have it memorized relatively quick.
Deciding on the music to use is a year-round process that culminates in February. For solos they use one full song while the other performances use 30 second clips following a common theme.
The season officially began on March 6.
Park began the season with a 22-7 win over Bloomington on March 23.
Leading varsity scorers in the figure portion of the meet included the top score posted by Savannah Kjaer with 64.197 points followed by Alex Monson with 63.360 and Brooklyn Donelson with 61.377.
In routines, Breyak led the way with a 66.50 score to win the solos competition. Breyak/Savanna Kjaer teammed up to total 66.667 points to win duets with Annie Breyak/Isabel Kjaer second with 64.833 points. The Park trio of Annie Breyak, Savannah Kjaer and Alex Monson earned the top score of 65.167 and the team of Annie Breyak, Emma Breyak, Isabel Kjaer, Savannah Kjaer, Monson, Sam St. Clair and Ella Hammerstrand was first with 66.250 points.
Park shutout Richfield 29-0 on April 4 with Breyak scoring a team-high 65.439 points in figures, Savannah Kjaer second with 64.053 points and Alex Monson third with 63.254 points. Park had the top nine individual scorers.
In rotuines, Monson won solos with a 63.00 score while Emma Breyak/Savannah Kjaer earned the top score in duets with 65.100 points ahead of Hammerstrand/St. Clair’s runner-up total of 62.70 points.
In trio, Park’s Annie Breyak, Savannah Kjaer and Monson scored 63.90 points to edge out Bloomington’s top trio score of 62.20 and in team, Annie Breyak, Emma Breyak, Isabel Kjaer, Savannah Kjaer, Monson, St. Clair and Hammerstrand scored a 66.450 to win the division ahead of Bloomington’s 62.850.
At Prior Lake on April 11, the Orioles had another shutout, this time against the Lakers, 29-0. In figures, Park had the top seven scores led by Emma Breyak’s 66.535 total ahead of Savannah Kjaer’s 64.895 and Monson’s 64.325 to place third.
Contact Jason Olson at [email protected]