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Monday, Aug. 20, 2018
Both ends of the Sudbury Synchro spectrum
by Randy Pascal

In many ways, at least part of the success of the Sudbury Synchro program these past few years lies in the groundwork that was laid by those who have been involved and supported the local synchronized swim club for the past decade or more.

As the 2016-2017 season winds down, swimmers representing both ends of that spectrum remain hard at work in practices, several times a week, some looking back on the career that was, others looking forward with anticipation to what lies ahead.

A grade 12 student at St Benedict Catholic Secondary School, Megan Sarmatiuk is preparing to pursue her post-secondary studies at Sheridan College in Toronto in the fall. "I'm going to miss it a lot, I spend so much time with these girls," said Sarmatiuk recently.

"It's going to be really strange not to have that group of people around, the group that's different from the ones I see in school every day. When you're in the pool all the time, you don't really know what it's like not to be in the pool all the time."

While some of the younger age brackets have enjoyed success against the very best teams in Ontario, Sarmatiuk found a different measure of success over the course of her ten year career with the team.

"When we go to a competition and everyone swims their best, and you come out of the pool, you look at each other, and you know that was a great swim," she stated. "Sometimes there's tears. It doesn't matter whether you come first or last, you know that was the best swim you could have done."

In the end, Sarmatiuk leaves without regrets, understanding there is much value to be gained from the dedication and commitment that is required to show up at the pool, several times a week, ready for the steady regimen of swim workouts.

"The whole interaction piece, getting to meet new people, people that are younger than you, people that are older than you, people who think differently than you," she noted. "The teamwork piece is really important too, knowing you can trust others."

The epiphany of this knowledge may not have yet been fully absorbed by 12 year old Amy Lacelle, now in her fourth year with the club. In the water, however, she is a super quick study, recently moving on to "phase three" of the provincial team tryouts.

Unsure of what exactly drew her to synchronized swimming a few years ago, Lacelle recalled the early mixed emotions of the experience. "I've always liked water, liked swimming," she said. "Every day in the summer, I would always be swimming at camp."

"I remember when I first started, I hated the nose-plug. Now, it's my best friend." While there is obviously some cross-over between the pure technical realm of the "figures" competition and the more varied approach of the team event, Lacelle has excelled more than most in the former.

"It's just the way I practice them," she said. "I practice my figures as though it's a competition. That's what (coach) Chelsea (Wandziak) tells me to do. In figures, you're in front of a panel of judges and you're all by yourself, and everyone does the same thing."

"In the team events, there's music and everyone does a different routine, and there's lots of different scores." Despite not advancing to phase three in her previous provincial tryouts, Lacelle maintains she remained confident heading into her most recent auditions.

"I wanted to make it this far, and knew I could," she exclaimed. "I believed in myself and made it." Come June 19th, she will be back in Southern Ontario for one final session, with a team of eight and two alternates to be selected for a competition later this summer in Edmonton.

She readies herself with the full support of the club and her teammates, including the likes of Sarmatiuk. "I would watch them and think that when they get to be my age, they're going to be so much better than me," acknowledged Sarmatiuk.

"I can help the younger people so they can be better than me. I want them to be amazing." And that is a Sudbury Synchro legacy that can live on and on.

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