Imagine combining the skill set of a dancer, gymnast, swimmer and underwater diver into one sport.

That is the challenge of synchro swimming that creates unique tests for its athletes.

Baywave-based Tauranga Synchro club is enjoying a consistent stream of results at major national events.

At last month's NZ National Synchronised Swimming Championships in Invercargill, the team of 23 athletes enjoyed a record medal haul against more than 150 athletes from China, New Caledonia and nine New Zealand clubs across solo, duet and team routines.


One of the individual stars was Zyleika Pratt-Smith, 13, who won gold medals in her duet routine with partner Karlina Steiner, her solo routine in the 13/14/15 age group and in the team category.

It was a big step up for Zyleika, who in September won nine gold medals to break the all-time AIMS Games individual swimming record competing for Mount Maunganui Intermediate.

It was her sixth synchro nationals and her most rewarding, she said.

"I got three golds last year but it was way harder this year because I moved up and competed against older people. Most of them were 14 and 15," Zyleika said.

"I like the solo routine most. Sometimes I get to make a little bit of it up but mostly the coach does it. You have to hold your breathe a lot longer. You are moving all the time, you are not stopping at any point and it is really hard on yourself."

Three-time Olympic representative for Brazil, Lara Cianciarulo, has been head coach of Tauranga Synchro for the past year.

Zyleika said the coach had made a huge impact on all the synchro athletes.

"She has just helped us a lot with new styles and new things like learning better ways to do stuff."


So far Zyleika is finding the time needed to compete in both swimming and synchro but knows that one day she will need to make a choice.

But not yet as she loves both equally.

"Yes I will have to choose but when I am a little bit older. I don't know yet because I like both at the moment so I am going to continue doing both."

Zyleika Pratt-Smith in action at the AIMS Games where she won nine gold medals. PHOTO/FILE
Zyleika Pratt-Smith in action at the AIMS Games where she won nine gold medals. PHOTO/FILE

Coach Cianciarulo said one of Zyleika's strengths was reacting to the environment so well when she performed.

"When everyone is staring at her, she can have this attitude where she wants people to look at her. At this young age she can present really good in that environment which is really good for a soloist," Cianciarulo said.

"She has done a really good job at such a young age. She is very strong in the water so can do some technically high movement that some of the 18- and 19-year-old athletes struggle to do."

Cianciarulo is pleased with the improvement shown across all age groups she works with.

"All the athletes now have the basics and we can go to another level."

Tauranga Synchro's athletes Eden Worsley, Isobel Pettit and Karlina Steiner have been selected for the New Zealand Development Team to compete at the Singapore Open later this month.