Synchro Club more than just treading water
by Gianni Ubriaco
Since it's humble beginnings four years ago, with just one team made up of seven competitive swimmers, the Sudbury
Synchro Swim Club has grown, now bigger than ever with over 60 young girls involved in either the recreational,
pre-competitive, or competitive program.
The liaison between the recreational and pre-competitive program is something the club is very proud of, especially after
the previous local synchronized swimming club, the Sudbury Y Synchro Club, was forced to close after over 30 years
of operation after the R.G. Dow Pool ceased operations several years ago.
“Four years ago, our initial goal was to get the community to know that there was a club and to obviously increase our
numbers every year,” says club official Kim Wandziak. “Our priority now is to keep building our program, building our
numbers, continuing our swimmers, keeping them happy, and making it a fun sport for everybody involved.”
They certainly have achieved their goals thus far, currently training 24 girls between the ages of eight and 17 in their
competitive program, assembling three teams, with a fourth group possibly in the works. They also have three duets and one
solo handicapped participant who competes in the "athletes with disabilities" category at the competitive level.
Once the club had re-established a competitive program, they began working on setting up a recreational program that now
serves as an introduction for girls to the sport of synchronized swimming. With that task checked off the club's "To Do" list,
they then added a pre-competite program to prepare swimmers with the necessary skills for competitive swimming.
Currently, they feature 32 girls between the ages of seven and 12 who form three teams at the recreational level and
three teams at the pre-competitive level. Wandziak does admit that there is always room to add more girls, but feels
satisfied with the number of swimmers they have right now. “It’s a big boom...last year we had 19 competitive swimmers and
this year we have 29”, explains Wandziak.
“That’s a big jump from our first year of seven swimmers. Our recreational and pre-competitive programs
have been pretty stable in the 30 to 40 range, so that’s good.” Next year, she hopes to host a large meet, perhaps the
Regional championships. Wandziak indicates that the club was supposed to host a meet this year, but their
Laurentian Pool facility was not available on the weekend that Synchro Ontario needed them to host, putting the plans on
hold for another year.
“Hopefully next year, we’ll bring a synchro competition here to Sudbury and hopefully, it’ll be the regionals,” she says.
“It would be very good for Sudbury and I think it would increase our stature.” Unfortunately for the club, Wandziak admits
that a lot of people not aware of its existence. To that end, she hopes to continue to work on getting the word out to the
“It’s still a young sport and it's out of the mainstream,” she says. “I just think it’s going to take time, but hopefully
having a meet would certainly give a big boost to the sport locally.” Another thing that should attract some attention is
the success some of their swimmers have enjoyed. Two years ago, one of their duets won gold at the Ontario Winter Games and
last year, Irini Cividino and Chelsea Wandziak won silver at
the Ontario Winter Games in Barrie.
“It’s great and it helps to motivate the younger ones to see how well the older ones have done because they do look up to
the older ones,” says Wandziak, the mother of four daughters. One noticeable change this year is that the club has involved
four of their older swimmers in pre-competitive coaching, including three of the Wandziak siblings.
Nineteen-year old Sarah has been coaching for three years, Lindsey (17) has 10 years of swimming experience and
will be coaching for the first time while Chelsea (14) also takes her first crack at the coaching ranks. “We’re mentoring
them because that’s how we get our synchronized swimmers is from our swimmers,” says Wandziak.
“Having that involvement between the younger swimmers and older swimmers is a good mentoring program for both.”
In fact, Chelsea and Lindsay will also be competing as a duet together for the first time, which their mother is really
looking forward to. “They’ve done duets with other people, but this is the first time they’ll be
doing it together,” she says. “It does make it more special because they’re sisters.”
The youngest of the Wandziak girls, nine-year-old Kayla, is not surprisingly also a swimmer. Although their mother was
never involved in swimming as a youngster, she decided to get Lindsay involved in swimming after her family suffered a
boating accident. Her remaining children followed suit and have loved the sport ever since.
“It’s a very interesting sport for those people that love to swim, but are finding that the swimming lessons are not
meeting their needs,” she says. “It involves dancing, it has gymnastics, and it has swimming all combined in
one because it’s put to music. It’s very good athletically, and it’s a good physical work out because it brings all those
The club will be led once again by their head coach, Carrie Wilson, who has also coached former olympians
in addition to representing the country at the Pan-American Games and is also a silver medalist at the world’s competition.
Wilson and her husband had decided to move North to pursue job opportunities at the same time the club was being re-launched
and she was pleased to help build synchronized swimming locally.
“It’s just such a boost to have her,” says Wandziak. “She’s helping us build our program and our swimmers. She really
wants to increase synchronized swimming in Sudbury and in the north and she’s been a large part of that.”
Wandziak also noted that the club will be having its 3rd annual breast cancer fundraiser on Friday, Oct. 20 from 7:00-8:00 p.m.
The event, open to all of the club’s synchronized swimmers, will see the athletes holding candles and taking turns
swimming across the Olympic Gold Pool at Laurentian in a relay for an hour. The first such swim generated $1,100 while last
year’s event garnered $1,600. The club is hoping to meet and beat that mark this year.
Other upcoming events include April’s regional competition in Aurora, a competition in Nepean in May and a year-end meet
in June set to be staged in London.