I love sports. I spend a lot of time watching sports, reading about sports, and I love being active. But there are a lot of sports I know nothing about.
Such is the case with synchronized swimming. Sure, I’ve watched it during the Olympics. But until I met Leasider Alianna Craig, I had no idea about the complexity of, and the incredible athleticism required to excel in, synchronized swimming.
Synchronized swimming, now named artistic swimming by the International Olympic Committee, can be roughly summed up as a combination of gymnastics, dance, and swimming. Participants perform solo or team routines for judges which involve a combination of movements or positions and lifts, all while the competitors stay afloat, never being allowed to touch the bottom of the pool. The sport requires participants to be strong swimmers, to have incredible aerobic endurance, and to be flexible, strong, artistic, and graceful.
Craig, an eighth grader at Bessborough School, has participated in synchro swimming for the past four years, and last year, in only her third year of the sport, she, along with her team from the Toronto Synchro Club, finished an incredible 11th in the country.
In March in Ottawa, Craig participated in the Leslie Taylor National Qualifiers, ranking 35th in the province individually moving her on to the second round for Team Ontario. Her team finished 6th in the province, qualifying them for the National stream, and her Combo team finished 4th in the province.
Craig spends 20 to 27 hours each week training both in and out of the pool at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, and the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Land training involves aerobic exercise, weight lifting, Pilates and yoga. Craig’s flexibility is phenomenal, with her mom, Karen Craig, commenting that she often comes across Alianna in pretzel-like shapes in their family room.
Despite a rigorous schedule involving tournaments across the country, Craig notes that her teachers and principal at Bessborough School have been extremely accommodating. As her mom proudly points out, Alianna is a very strong student and has maintained an average in the 90s while managing to juggle her busy schedule. Her parents and brother Connor are also very supportive.
While synchronized swimming may seem like a relatively safe sport, injuries include concussions, strained muscles, back strains, and knee tendonitis. Fortunately, Craig has had only minor injuries, and says she would like to participate in the sport as long into her life as she can.
With 20 to 27 hours of training every week, Craig still has found time to participate in many school sports including track, football, and basketball, and sits on the school’s athletic council.
Craig also joined with her dad Andre in a Plastic Free February campaign.
With so much success already under her belt in school and in swimming, Alianna has a bright future both in and out of the water.