New Zealand's Synchronised Swimming team is in South Korea getting ready for their world championship campaign, which starts this week. That team is lead by captain Eva Morris - a 21-year-old Tauranga Synchro member, who despite having no interest in the sport initially, now feels like she has gained sisters in her teammates. But when kicks are a normal part of life for synchronised swimmers it's not all glittery togs, graceful movements and intense athleticism for Morris, concussions are part of it too. No matter what though, the talented athlete loves her sport ... but she also loves her 'happy place', which is not a pool.
Who is Eva Morris?
A 21-year-old synchronised swimmer, Tauranga Synchro club member and NZ Aquaferns Team Captain. I'm the daughter of Terry Morris and Shirley Hopper and have an older sister, Izzi Morris.
Do you have any nicknames?
When I was little my parents used to call me Eva Beaver Lemon Squeezer but now it's just Eva Diva or Eves.
What is the first memory you have of synchronised swimming?
My first memory of Synchro was that I had to do a school project on it at primary school and I really didn't want to. But then I went along and watched a display that the local club was putting on and I saw the glittery togs and how it was a combination of swimming and dancing and I fell in love.
I then watched the 2008 Olympics where Nina and Lisa Daniels were swimming and they quickly became my idols and I've been obsessed with synchro ever since.
What is it that you love about synchro?
I love that it combines a bunch of different skills all into one sport, such as swimming, dance, flexibility, strength and acting.
I also love being part of a team of really strong and supportive girls. I honestly don't think I would enjoy the sport as much as I do if it weren't for the awesome teams I am a part of. It's like having another eight sisters.
What is your sporting highlight to date?
For me competing at the world champs is definitely a highlight. It's such an amazing feeling to finish swimming and know you represented your country and all the swimmers back home.
Another would have been just last year at the Brazil Open when our team scored the highest score New Zealand has ever achieved. It was an awesome feeling especially seeing as the team was so young, it just shows how much potential we have.
What has been the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you while performing?
I was the Junior world champs and I dove in and when I came up I saw myself on the big screen and was like "ahh I'm late/behind the music" but really the video was just delayed. I quickly figured it out but still not my finest moment.
Les Elder - businesswoman, athlete, leader, rodeo rider
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What has been your biggest injury suffered?
Thankfully I haven't had any serious injuries. Just the usual things in synchro like getting kicked etc, I have had a concussion but it wasn't major.
What is the best advice you have been given when it comes to synchro?
It's not just for synchro but the quote "Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game". It's from the movie A Cinderella Story and I was obsessed with the movie when I was a kid and I really loved the quote even though I didn't really know what it meant.
But now that I'm an athlete I really love it because to me it means not to be scared just because something is hard and you might "fail" you can still give it a go and learn something from it and in the end you won't regret trying.
When you're not playing or training, what are you doing?
I'm either at work, relaxing at home, with friends or baking.
Who is your favourite athlete?
It's probably Laura Langman. I think she is an incredible athlete and leader in her sport and her love for netball is really clear when she is playing. I love that she is always pushing boundaries and trying to improve, as well as giving back to her sport.
What was your very first job?
My fist unofficial job was putting stamps on letters at my dad's work when I was a kid.
I've worked as a kids party host at Baywave. Now i work at Teamline, an online and retail store that sells product and equipment specifically for water sports such as swimming, triathlons, water polo, synchro etc ... so it's very fitting for me to work there, and they are very understanding with my commitments to my sport.
What is something you would tell your 16-year-old self?
Probably to appreciate that each individual is different and that you can learn something from everyone.
What five words do you think your closest friends would use to describe you?
Energetic, driven, kind, loud, loyal.
Where is your favourite place in the Bay?
Probably my house. I'm a real home body, I love spending time with my friends etc but my happy place is relaxing at home with my family, probably baking.
Tell us three things people may not know about you:
I had braces for 12 years.
My favourite food is chicken
I have never broken a bone (touch wood).