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Out with a splash

Synchronized swimming team concludes season with skill at State

May 30, 2017

The Long division team of Elizabeth Coleman, Ellen Mattson, and Lily Provenzano, sophomores, Lily Smith, junior, and Katie Gunderson, senior, performs their routine "Battle Cry" at the 2017 Minnesota Synchronized Swimming State Invitational on May 26.

As the opening sirens of Britney Spears’ “Womanizer” blared through the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center speakers, captain Maggie Cleary, senior, was taken back to her first year on the Royals synchronized swimming team.

“I thought back to my seventh grade year, standing on the same pool deck, terrified to swim at state for the first time,” Cleary said. “It was surreal. After six years, for everything to come down to this one swim was crazy.”

On May 25 and 26, the Royals participated in the 2017 Minnesota Synchronized Swimming State Invitational: the last meet of the 2017 season, and for Cleary, Sophie Dirnberger, and Katie Gunderson, seniors, the last meet of their high school athletic careers.

Nine routines, a total of 17 swimmers, qualified for the state tournament: two solos, two duets, two trios, and three in the team division. On Thursday, the figures, solos, and duets, competed, while on Friday, the trios and team competitions concluded the meet.

Jordan Ashby, junior, placed first in the extended solo division, and was the only Royal to place at the meet. Ashby said she was thrilled with her own success, but that the team’s mere presence at State was an achievement in itself.

“[State] is a very competitive meet, and it is an honor just to compete against such amazing swimmers and watch some fantastic routines,” Ashby said.

These rivaling teams included section and 10-time state champions Wayzata, who would go on to win the meet for an eleventh consecutive year. Ashby noted the significant efforts that the team has made throughout the season against such tough competition.

“I am super proud of all the swimmers on this team. This season had its ups and downs, but everyone worked really hard to overcome challenges and the team was stronger because of it,” Ashby said.

With all the work put into every season, developing team camaraderie seems to be inevitable. And indeed, the Hopkins team’s dynamic seems to be as solid their gelatin-laden hair. Cleary said that it’s that dynamic that she’ll miss most.

“We spend more time in a pool than we do at our houses, so you can imagine how close we get,” Cleary said. “It’s hard to think that next year I won’t get to swim with the same girls I swam with for six years. We’ve become so close that we have each other’s clothes.”

Cleary said she intends to maintain her relationship with her teammates by bringing those clothes with her to college. Cleary will be attending the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, in the fall, where she will compete for the university’s synchronized swimming team. As she leaves the Royals, however, Cleary hopes that she’s made a personal impact on her teammates.

“I hope that my legacy lies with the girls who are currently swimming…that I have made enough of an impact on them that they think of me as someone they could look up to. I know that I strive to be like some swimmers who have graduated, and I hope I can be a source of inspiration for the girls who I have swam with,” Cleary said.

While three seniors may be moving on, the rest of the Royals look to next year’s season with a heightened desire for success and a renewed hope to return to the University of Minnesota.
“Looking into next year, I’m excited to see how we can continue improving. Hopkins Synchro has so many strong athletes on the team, but there is always room for improvement,” Ashby said. “I hope that next season we continue to work hard and can have even more routines qualify and place at State.

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