University of Richmond Synchronized Swimmers lost their only home meet against Ohio State on Saturday, and now, as they face the Collegiate South Regional Championship, team Vice President and Captain Allison Zhao says, “It’s crunch time.”
“Everyone swam really well today,” Erin Wheeler, president and captain, said. “They’re all very new, and swam better during the meet than at practice.”
The swimmers have won two meets already this season. They beat William & Mary at their first competition, which was the Fall Figure Meet. The second meet was against William & Mary, University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania State and the swimmers tied for second with William & Mary. In the third meet, the Spiders came in first against the same three teams.
In the dual meet on Sunday, OSU, a varsity team, scored 79 points and the Spiders, a club team, scored 64 points. OSU has won more national championships than any other team in synchronized swimming.
“We’re excited to see who will take the challenge and embrace the choreography and really take a leadership role,” Zhao said, referring to future competition. “We need to be more precise as we go and be more conscientious in the pool, but also with where we are in relationship to everyone else. Our group dynamic effects how well we swim.”
Because it is the only meet the team has at home, many don’t realize that there is synchronized swimming at Richmond, Zhao said.
“It was a fun meet — a great crowd, and there were a lot of supporters for the team,” coach Asha Bandal said. She called it one of the best meets because of the fans and alumni that came to watch.
Wheeler, who is ranked seventh nationally, helped develop the team after coming in as a first-year.
“If it weren’t for Erin, we wouldn’t have a team anymore,” Bandal said. “She was able to get a couple of girls to join that year that are still swimming. She has the most experience and she competes at a really high level.”
Zhao said that it was really difficult at the beginning to learn technique and that Erin was a great resource.
“If we’re more in sync and we better know each other, and how we all react, and how we process, it’s easier to move forward and get better," Zhao said. "I think we just need to get a lot closer as a team too, because we have gotten so big."
The team is now preparing for its next meet, the South Regional Championship on Feb. 25 and 26 in Newport News, Virginia.
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