Swimming with style

Juneau team will perform show, host its first regional meet Saturday

Posted: Thursday, June 07, 2001

When she was 6, Sarah Felix saw a video of synchronized swimmers and thought it looked like fun. Five years later, she hasn't changed her mind.

"I like it because it's a cross between swimming and dance, and those are my two favorite things to do," Sarah said.

Sarah is one of six members of the Juneau Aurora Knights synchronized swimming team, which will perform at 7:15 p.m. Saturday at the Augustus Brown Swimming Pool.

The show is part of the team's first official Juneau meet. Synchronized swimmers from Whitehorse and Bozeman, Mont., will spend Saturday morning competing with the Knights in figure and routine competitions. Awards will be presented during the evening's free performance.

"This is the first 'meet' that we've had," said Karen Lawfer, team secretary. "Every year we've done a show ... there always has been a good turnout for the shows. That's why we're doing this evening thing. People like to come and watch it."

The swim team's routines include required figures - much like ice skating's compulsories, these are routines or movements that must be performed and judged. The routines also incorporate numerous theatrical elements - costumes, music, makeup and dance.

"After they swim they actually do ballet," Lawfer said. "Right now they're going through the Fine Arts Camp and doing the jazz and the hip hop and the ballet."

Sarah said she swims and dances five days a week. Her coach, 18-year-old Johanna Evans, agreed.

Synchronized swim team

8:45 a.m.: Figures

10 a.m.-noon: Solo, duet, team routines

Performance: 7:15 p.m. Free.

All events are Saturday at the Augustus Brown Swimming Pool.

"Synchro is supposed to look effortless, but countless hours go into practice and choreography and endurance," Evans said. "You should rehearse (a routine) for at least two months."

Evans, whose younger sister Rose is also on the team, has been swimming for four years and coaching for several months. She took over after the team's previous coach left.

"It's really hard, actually," Evans said. "I'll be in the water with them and I'll have to get out and get on the microphone. ... I don't get as much swimming time as I should be getting."

Nonetheless, she, Rose and Sarah managed to qualify for the national synchronized swimming competition, which will take place in July.

"I really like performing," Evans said. "That's just the most fun when you get to put on all the makeup and your sparkly suit and smile."

Lawfer does much of the costume work for the team, said parent Katie Bausler. Her daughter, 14-year-old Kaitlyn, is a member of the Knights.

"The costumes that Kaitlyn and Koko (Urata) are going to wear for their duet - it's like a '20s flapper number," Bausler said. "Karen ... came over and sewed fringe on Kaitlyn and Koko's swimming suits that she had ordered from some theatrical supply house in New York."

"The costumes are basically the suit and however you want to dress it up," Lawfer added. "Sequins and fringe and whatever you want to do. The thing you have to make sure of is that it's something the girls are going to be able to move in."

Swimmers also wear head pieces, which Lawfer said must work with the costume and allow the swimmers to "do all sorts of flipping around."

With preparation nearly completed, all involved are looking forward to the meet.

"I think it'll be a lot of fun," Evans said. "One of the girls on our team has never competed before, so she'll get to see what it's all about and how meets are run."

The meet itself begins at 8:45 a.m. with the figures competition. From 10 a.m. to noon, swimmers will perform their solo, duet and team routines for the judges. The Saturday night show is just for fun, Lawfer said.

"It's just for the public to come in and have a good time and watch synchronized swimming and see what it's all about," she said. "It's just wonderful to watch."

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