By Kim Davis
Australia senior artistic swimming squad, known as the Coral squad, will be exhibiting their newly choreographed technical routine at the Nationals championships this weekend. The squad is preparing for the 2019 FINA World Championship, which is the Olympic qualifier for Australia. The event marks the first national performance for the squad.
Artistic Swimming Australia’s Coral Squad have their sights set on Olympic qualification which will take place at the 2019 FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea this July. Over the next several months the squad will be traveling extensively to prepare for these championships. The team is led by Head Coach Briana Preiss and Assistant Coach Bianca Hammett. The Coral squad will need achieve the highest score amongst the Oceania countries at Worlds to qualify for the Olympics.
It is also an extra special opportunity for to many local NSW athletes who have relocated to other states to train. Current senior national team members Amie Thompson, Kiera Gazzard and Erica Li started their Australian artistic swimming careers in Sydney. Amie Thompson, who is the national swimmers representative, comments “I have not competed in Sydney since 2015, which means that my family has not seen me swim live for 4 years. I definitely feel excited to be coming back to the home town and showcasing my routines and all the hard work that has been done leading up to the competition.“
These athletes will be joined by their Coral Squad team mates; Rose Stackpole, Rachel Presser, Emily Rogers, Kirsten Kinash, Hannah Cross, Alessandra Ho, Kazia Zenke, Jane Fruzynski, and Hannah Burkhill. These athletes will be performing their new choreography during the Opening Ceremony on Sunday April 14th.
“Our sport has achieved a great deal of growth and maturation in the past 4 years. The community is growing and our international results are steadily increasing. This team is poised to set new international standards for our sport” says President Kim Davis. “We thank our sponsors Hancock Prospecting, Meadore and the Sydney Olympic Park for helping us deliver an outstanding competition and supporting our Coral squads towards achieving their Olympic dreams.”
Artistic swimming became an Olympic sport in 1984. Donella Freeman (Burridge) and Lisa Critoph were the first Australian artistic swimmers competing at the 1984 LA Olympics. Donella will be performing in the masters category at this National Competition and Lisa Critoph will be attending to present the awards.
Artistic swimming required a combination of swimming skills, a sense of timing, spacial awareness, and visualisation. At recreational levels, the sport is very inclusive and allows for people of all ages, shapes and sizes to participate, develop skills, have fun and make friends. Training may be once or twice a week. At the competitive levels artistic swimmers are elite athletes who put in many hours of training per week. The Coral squad trains up to 12 hours a day.
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