Synchronised swimming

Tauranga Synchronised Swimming Club's top two senior swimmers, Eva Morris and Jazzlee Thomas, are looking to qualifying for next year's world championships.

Fresh off competing at the Junior World Championships in July in Kazan, they took top honours at both junior and senior levels at the recent national championships held at Baywave, winning the Junior Duet, Senior Tech Duet and Senior Free Duet.

Winning those titles was the first step in the selection process for the Fina World Championships in Budapest in 2017.

The national championships were being held at Baywave for the first time and attracted 140 competitors from New Zealand, China, Australia and New Caledonia.

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Even with such strong competition, hometown swimmers shone, with the Tauranga Club winning gold in 13 of the 16 events they entered.

Seven of Tauranga's 23-strong team are members of New Zealand High Performance/Talent Development Squads - vying for the right to represent New Zealand next year - and all seven featured strongly in the placings.

The 13/14/15 team, made up of Karlina Steiner, Zyleika Pratt-Smith, Eden Worsley and Maya Lowans, retained the National Championship title which has now been held by the club for three years in a row.

At the younger end of this age group, Pratt-Smith (12), Lowans (13) and Steiner (13) are working hard to secure their positions in a New Zealand 13/14/15 Team to compete in Singapore in 2018. Their strong showings in Team, Solos and Duets drew the attention of the selectors.

Pratt-Smith, who featured strongly in the recent AIMS Games, taking out the top 12-year-old swimmer in New Zealand, did the same in synchro, placing first in 12 and under solo and figures. This made her the top 12-year-old in the country in both disciplines.

"While they are all strong individually, when they swim together as a team, those strengths are multiplied," said head coach Julieta Diaz.

Eden Worsley , 15, swam across two age groups at the nationals, positioning herself with her duet partner Isobel Pettit, 16, to target New Zealand representation in the junior category next year. Both were members of the New Zealand Koru Junior Squad, and continued to impress with their junior duet, placing second, as well as strong performances in solos - Worsley first and Pettit fourth.

"Eden and Isobel worked hard for their placings this year - training four times a week plus three mornings in the gym. Their strength is building and it showed in the way they presented their routines," said Diaz.

"They lead the club through their experience and example," said Diaz.

Building a supportive family culture was a big part of what Tauranga Synchro stood for.

"All our older swimmers play an active part in supporting and mentoring the younger swimmers in the club as they come up through the Dolphins and Aquanauts," said club chairwoman Shirley Hooper.

"This year we had 14 girls competing in their first nationals - and they all looked right at home. Catriona Robertson and Rhiannon Mabey took out first place in the Aquanauts Duet/Trio and were great role models for this group, as were their coaches Suzanne Ribeiro, Jo Worsley and Emma Weston.

"We're on the lookout now for new swimmers to join us for next year - ideally aged from 7-11 who are capable swimmers and comfortable in deep water."

Synchronised swimming is a sport that combines elements of dance, gymnastics and swimming. If you'd like to try it, come along any Saturday morning to Baywave at 9am for a free lesson. Or call Angela on 552-5416.