By: Kate Todisco
ANA Synchro is known for inspiring our swimmers and guiding them with creativity and passion to build successful leaders. In our continuing new series: Dive Deep: Meet ANA Alumni, we are pleased to introduce you to some of our dynamic ANA Alumni.
Meet Rita Gillan
Growing up, some kids give their heart to a favorite character or TV show. For ANA Alumna Rita Gillan, it was synchronized swimming that captured her heart at the impressionable age of six years old. A member of the ANA team from 1994-2006, Rita strongly believes ANA was her “ground zero” for developing a solid foundation for turning a passion into a group-oriented goal. Rita joined a small team of fourteen girls as a novice swimmer, and while swimming for twelve years on the team, she had the privilege of watching ANA expand into a group of over forty talented athletes. Setting new records for ANA, her team was the first to advance and to compete in finals on a national platform! An integral part of Rita’s team structure was a team-based learning environment with a strong focus on collaboration between swimmers of all ages and skill levels. For Rita, this played a significant role in advancing her success, but even more importantly, it strengthened the bond of her friendships with her teammates and cultivated her leadership skills.
Today, Rita lives in San Francisco and practices as an Orthopedic and Obstetrics Physical Therapist at an outpatient hospital clinic. She earned a Bachelor of Science from The Ohio State University and her Doctor of Physical Therapy from MGH Institute of Health Professions. Outside of work Rita’s favorite activities include surfing, gardening, and outdoor explorations. Believe it or not, twenty-five years after first falling in love with synchro, Rita still gives a big piece of her heart to synchronized swimming. She has coached many teams including, ANA Synchro, Cambridge Synchro, Beverly YMCA, and currently she is a coach for the San Francisco Marionettes Synchronized Swimming Team. Performing and entertaining others with her synchro skills also still holds a very special place in Rita’s heart, and she occasionally satisfies her passion for performing by swimming with the Aqualillies, a professional synchronized swimming and dance company based in California.
Some inspirational advice from this accomplished Alumna (and daughter of our very own ANA Coach Eugenia Gillan) is -- enjoy your time in the water with your teammates and the art of the sport as a modality to be curious about who you are, how you can uplift your sisterhood, and how you can let all that magic ripple outside of the water world.
Dream vacation spot?
Always chasing spots with water features, specifically hot springs
Favorite summer activity (besides for swimming)?
Hanging out at the lake with my family and friends
Ocean or lake?
Cat or Dog?
Lately loving all the fiction works by Tom Robbins