Dana Bogatko, front, practices figures while Julliana Lukshin, back, and Annika Brayton-Medley, center, practice for their show at the Augustus Brown Pool April 25.
Mia Ruffin is launched out of the water by two of her teammates on the Juneau Aurora Knights Synchronized Swimming Team. The team will join swimmers from Whitehorse for a water show on April 25.
Story last updated at 4/22/2009 - 10:59 am
JUNEAU - Imagine running a quarter of a mile without taking a breath. According to Karen Lawfer, a coach for the Juneau Aurora Knights Synchronized Swimming Team (JAK), a breathless run is just as difficult as her team's swimming routine.
"That's what synchronized swimming is," Lawfer said. "Your body has got to work, yet taking a breath isn't option."
The Juneau Aurora Knights Synchronized Swimming Team (JAK) has spent the winter in the water preparing for their upcoming 11th annual water show. This year's show will feature 10 girls from the JAK as well as 10 girls from the team in Whitehorse, Canada. Janice Holst's ballerina dancers will perform for the opening act.
The water show will be at 6 p.m. on April 25 at the Augustus Brown Pool. Admission is free.
The JAK consists of eighteen girls, the youngest being eight years old, the oldest in their early teens. They practice four times per week doing a combination of in-water practice as well as dry land training. In dry land training, the girls practice their routines on mats on the deck of the pool to learn movements and memorize the choreography.
"Synchronized swimming is dancing, gymnastics and swimming all at the same time," said Lawfer.
Lawfer said that breathing is one of the toughest parts of synchronized swimming. The issue, she said, isn't how long a swimmer can hold her breath, but rather how she conserves the air that she is holding. During a routine, there isn't always a chance to come up for breath.
Along with figure movements, breath is incorporated into the choreography of the swimmers' routines.
"They come out of the water smiling, but they've got to take a breath," Lawfer said. "They've got to know what the next thing is so that they know how much breath to take and what kind of breath."
Lawfer's daughter, Sarah Felix, began synchronized swimming when she was six years old, and she is now an alumnus of the JAK team. She is currently swimming on a scholarship at the University of Incarnate Word in Texas. Another JAK alumnus, Koko Urata, is on a swimming scholarship at Stanford University.
Lawfer said her favorite part about coaching the team is watching the girls progress from beginners to highly skilled swimmers.
"It's a skill that they'll always have," Lawfer said. "These girls are drownproof."