In Sync: Local swimmer is bound for nationals
Behind the make-up, hair gel and sequin suit of synchronized swimmer Brynn Paine, 15, is an athlete who can spend nearly a minute under water without air while constantly in graceful motion.
It's a tough sport, one she has been training at for four years the past two years with the Kansas City Terrafins, three to four days a week.
The team of four she is a member of is headed for national competition June 24-July 2 in Oakland, Calif. Her team qualified for the Baquacil Age Group Synchronized Swimming Championships by winning the regional championship in May in Colorado Springs, Colo., competing in the age 14-15 division.
"We went to a regional meet in Colorado Springs, which we qualified for at an area meet," Paine said of the process of qualifying for nationals. She is the daughter of Larry, Baldwin City administrator, and Susan Paine. "We had to be in the top three of each meet to advance."
The Terrafins are coached by Kelly Eakin, whose mother, Karen, was a member of the U.S. synchronized swimming team that gave a demonstration performance at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. The sport did not become an official Olympic event until 1984, with solo and duet competition. A team competition was added in 1996.
Paine said the team has benefited from the global experience of its coach. Competition has taken them to Riverside, Calif., St. Louis, Milwaukee, San Antonio, Indianapolis and Sioux Falls, S.D.
"We had been competing, and we were expecting to get to nationals," Paine said. "At nationals, our coach expects us to place 15th or above."
A two-hour practice to prepare for a five-minute routine is evidence of the physical demands of the sport. At practice, Paine said her team swims laps, does laps of eggbeaters an eggbeater motion with the legs to keep head and shoulders above the water and also practices performing without air by swimming underwater laps.
"It is physically demanding," she said. "And you have to hold your breath for a long time."
The routine Paine and her team members will be performing at nationals is set to "jungle" music, and they will wear leopard-print swimsuits.
They will be facing teams of eight, which have the advantage over the quartet. A synchronized swimming team must consist of at least four members. Teams with more members get a quarter point bonus for each member over four.
"Before they even get in the water, they have to be better," said Susan Paine of the Terrafins' point disadvantage.
The need to be extra perfect doesn't bother Brynn Paine although she said more interest in the sport in the area might allow her age group to have a larger team. Especially down a point before touching the water, the sport requires preparation through hard work.
"Karen Eakin said people don't realize the amount of control, concentration and athletic ability it takes," said Susan Paine.
Brynn agreed that people who watch synchronized swimming often don't realize how physically demanding it is. They just see the nose clip, hair gel and pretty swimsuits.
"They don't see all the hard work that goes on behind the performance," Brynn Paine said.
Beyond the pool
Paine also is a talented violinist, who studies the instrument at the Ottawa Suzuki Strings in Ottawa. She has been playing the violin since first grade.
"I started because my brother wanted to, and I wanted to," Paine said. Her brother, Brock, 17, plays the viola.
She has a group lesson and a private lesson once a week.
Her flexible home-school schedule, allows her to do school work around her activities.
And when the Baldwin City pool needs her, she is a substitute lifeguard there's no doubt about it, she likes to swim.
Paine would like to continue synchronized swimming into college although not many colleges offer the sport. With the approaching summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, Paine admits that she's not sure if her ambitions go that far.
"We're good, but we are not that good," she laughed.