Hard work in and out of the pool, combined with a close friendship built from more than 1500 hours of training together, has paid off for Tauranga synchronised swimmers Jazzlee Thomas and Eva Morris.
The pair have been selected to represent New Zealand at the Oceania Championships in Auckland from May 20-23. They will compete in their duet for the junior (16-18) age group. Both will also perform their solos, in different categories, Thomas (Bethlehem College) competing in the 13/14/15 solo and Morris (Tauranga Girls' College) in junior.
"This is a fantastic achievement for both girls," said Sue Edwards, Synchro Swim New Zealand chairwoman.
"Particularly given they are both at the beginning of the junior age bracket.
"If they continue to train as hard as they have done, it will be exciting to see where their synchro careers take them."
Tauranga Synchro head coach Julieta Diaz was a strong synchronised swimmer, competing internationally for Argentina in the junior age group as well.
"Synchronised swimmers tend to peak in their mid-20s," she said.
"But the hard work that forms the basis for this success happens in their late teens.
"Eva and Jazzlee are both very committed trainers. This year we've combined their pool training with gym-based training at Impact Gym, which has really helped build their strength and flexibility.
"It's a big honour to represent your country, and hopefully this will be the first of many competitions where they get a chance to do that."
The pair join Tauranga's other New Zealand representative, Sarsha Younger, who is on sabbatical in Europe. The club is continuously looking for younger girls who would like to try out the sport of synchro.
"The best age to join is 7 to 11," said Diaz. "Girls need to be strong swimmers, and we find if girls enjoy dance or gymnastics, they love synchro as it combines many of the same skills.
"We offer free trial lessons on Saturday mornings at Baywave and would encourage anyone who would like to try to come along."