The delights of synchro competition

Marc Lalonde
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Viking Pool plays host to thousands of shiny bathing suits

My daughter getting her hair shellacked with gelatin prior to the ALPS summer swimmers' synchro competition Thursday afternoon

You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a summer synchronized swimming competition.

You may think you have, but you haven’t.

Truly, the sight last Thursday night at Viking Pool in Pointe Claire of hundreds of young girls, ranging in age from six to 16, at the Association of Lakeshore Pools annual summer swimmers synchronized swimming competition was one that I, for one, won’t soon forget.

Not because everywhere you looked, you saw small groups of kids in matching, glittery, shiny new bathing suits with makeup tastefully (or garishly, depending on your evaluation of synchronized-swimming makeup, which some have characterized as ‘clownlike,’ but which I thought looked quite nice on my little girl) applied underneath hair shellacked to their heads by bobby pins, hair nets and Knox gelatin. Grocery-store owners, be aware: the run on Knox gelatin is not because parents all across our great region are opting for gelatinous desserts at the same time, but rather, it is a wonderful way to keep long hair in place, even in the water, I found out this week.

The competition began Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m., and wrapped up somewhere around 10 p.m. after trophies, ribbons and wet-wipes were handed out to competitors. Memo to organizers, though: could you hold this event on a day that isn’t relentlessly rainy and miserable, like, I don’t know, every other day this summer?

Now, full disclosure: I didn’t spend the whole time at the competition – I know, I know, I’m lucky. But someone had to look after our son someplace dry, after all – but when I arrived, I was knocked for a loop. First, we had to park so far away that I’m sure we crossed a time zone or two, and when I got there, the sheer volume of glitter, shiny things and pop music played at ear-splitting levels knocked me for a loop.

But what really knocked me for a loop was just how well my daughter and her four mini-teammates performed their routine, and how I was so insanely proud that I had to fight back tears, lest the other parents think I had just stubbed my toe or something similar.

I have no idea how my daughter’s team fared (apparently well, for a team made up of seven- and eight-year-olds), but I know that I was humbled by the work the girls and their coaches put in on the routine. I watched my daughter and her teammates reap the fruits of her summer’s labour in real time, and for parents, there can be no greater pride. Sure, your child may accomplish many things you didn’t know they were capable of, but I think that watching my kid learn something, work on it relentlessly and finally unleash her passion on the world was a triumph worth noting and praising. And boy, was I proud.

Even if I don’t feel this way next week, at least she’s got a shiny new bathing suit to show for it.

We’re still working on washing the gunk out of her hair.

Organizations: Association of Lakeshore Pools

Geographic location: Pointe Claire

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