Blue Dolphins synchronized swimming team gears up for their routine season

By Grace Cleary and Kate Bania

As the Grosse Pointe United Blue Dolphins gear up for their routine season, they set goals for themselves to improve from figure season, where they perform one move at a time for a score. Head coach and parent, Lisa Aouad is excited to see where this season takes the team, and is ready to expand.

“Our team has several goals for this season, ” Aouad said. “First, we want our team to provide a safe, welcoming environment and opportunity for all of our team members. This includes both experienced synchronized swimmers and swimmers new to the sport. Second, we want to promote both individual and team growth in skills and understanding of the sport. Third, we want to continue to grow the size of our team and to have athletes from both North and South high school since the Blue Dolphins are a combined North / South team.”

To make the routines for this season, the girls have to pick a song that fills the time requirement and then create a routine around it. New assistant coach Hannah Hicks was a synchronized swimmer for twelve years and is a 2020 North graduate. Hicks allows the girls creative freedom but likes to incorporate her ideas in as well.

“We let the girls choreograph the routines, but I’m there to help make changes, to make it run smoothly, and there to give them critiques,” Hicks said. “ [I] like to just help them work out all the kinks.”

Sophomore Sarah Westrick is also extremely excited to be able to perform the routines this season. Last season, due to COVID-19, the girls were not able to choreograph or perform group routines. 

“Last season we were only able to do the first half of our season which was figures and we were not even able to do that to the fullest because we only did one set of figures instead of two,” Westrick said. “This season we were able to have both sets of figures as well as the routines which we were not able to do last year”    

As a coach, Hicks likes to focus on team building, communication, and building people up. She wants to make sure everyone is comfortable and trusts one another. Hicks has grown into her role as assistant coach and it has matured her in several ways.

“It’s helped me grow more into a leadership role,” Hicks said. “Before, I was more of an observer or follower. This has helped me gain confidence.”

Westrick recognizes that teamwork accounts for a big portion of synchro routines as the girls rely on their skills and each other for their routines to run smoothly. Having a team that gets along makes the precise coordination of the routines easier.

“My teammates are really energetic and fun, and they have such a positive and uplifting vibe,” Westrick said. 

My teammates are really energetic and fun, and they have such a positive and uplifting vibe.”

— Sarah Westrick, student

Auoad is also very thrilled with her team, and is looking forward to what they plan to accomplish this season. She is pleased with how far they have come, and can not wait to see what more they accomplish this upcoming season.  

“I am proud of all of my swimmers for very different reasons,” Aouad said. “It is very rewarding to see them meet personal goals and to accomplish what they once thought they couldn’t. I am also very proud of them for writing all of their own routines and for working together to make revisions and improvements as the season progresses.”

As the girls work together, Hicks is ready to see it all come together, because the team works on small parts of a routine at a time during practice. Hicks believes in her team and sees their determination.

“I’m excited to see the finished product of all these routines that they have been working on,” Hicks said. “I am proud of their perseverance because figure season can take a lot out of a person.”

Hicks is doing everything that she can to prepare her team for competition. She knows what they need to fix in their routines from her synchronized swimming experience.

“It takes a lot of self-motivation because a coach can only do so much. It’s really up to the girls to take the advice and put it into their moves,” Hicks said.

 

ALWAYS UNDERWATER | Westrick has been a dedicated teammate and enjoys her time spent on the team. “I have been doing synchronized swimming since I was in second grade and I have been on North’s team for two years,” Westrick said. “It’s just so fun.”
(Photo credit: Kate Bania)
DIFFICULT DIVES | Westrick shares what is needed in order to be a synchronized swimmer. “You need a lot of flexibility but also skills in the water such as knowing how to swim, how to skull properly, and how to tread so you can stay afloat so you can also look good while doing the moves,” Westrick said.
(Photo credit: Kate Bania)
RISING UP | COVID-19 definitely slowed down synchronized swimming last year, but the girls are bouncing back. “Last season we were only able to do the first half of our season which was figures and we were not even able to do that to the fullest because we only did one set of figures instead of two,” Westrick said.
(Photo credit: Kate Bania)