Summer Synchro!

The competition part of the season may have just ended, but ANA Synchro athletes will not be idle all summer!  Head Coach Leah Pinette wants to share three options for keeping synchro-fit this summer, some combination of which should fit just about everybody’s vacation, camp, and simply hanging-out-in-the-summer plans:
  1.  Do some stretching and conditioning on your own, emphasizing and practicing the proper technique that was taught all last year.
  2. Practice pool skills at our weekly clinics, which have been specifically set up to run weekly to accommodate families’ travel.
  3. Two Olympians are better than one!  ANA Synchro will be hosting a clinic the week of August 18th with guest coach Mary Killman, our 2012 USA Olympian and current collegiate champion in synchronized swimming. What could be better than spending a week with 2 synchro Olympic athletes, our very own Coach Leah and Mary Killman!
ANA Synchro:  First, we have to ask….Really?  Synchro in the summer?  Don’t the girls deserve the summer off?
Leah Pinette (Head Coach):  I totally understand when girls, and their families, just want to take a break for the summer.  And resting your body after what can be a grueling season is definitely a good thing, especially for anyone who is injured.  At the same time, summer is the perfect time, since there aren’t any competitions, to work on getting the right techniques down for both land and water activities.  This, combined with general conditioning, can give the girls an excellent base for the fall season.
Head Coach Leah Pinette encourages her athletes to get outside this summer!
ANA Synchro:  Tell us what the girls can be doing at home or when they’re away at camp or on vacation.
Leah Pinette (Head Coach):  Just be active!  Synchronized swimming is a non-weight-bearing activity, so adding some weight-bearing activity would be good.  Good weight-bearing activities could include running, playing soccer, weight-lifting – basically anything that requires you to exercise with more than your own body weight. And get outside!  Personally, I love hiking.  AllTrails  is a great resource that I use to find hiking trails around home and wherever I travel.
ANA Synchro:  What about activities if the girls are indoors, just catching up on their favorite TV shows?

Leah Pinette (Head Coach):  They can be working on getting the perfect squat in preparation for next season.  The girls know I love the squat because it helps to balance out all the front-facing moves we do in synchro.  Andrew Cannon, the physical therapist who has been helping us with injury prevention, gave us a helpful video to illustrate the proper way to do a squat.

ANA Synchro:  What about stretching?  Synchronized swimmers probably need to be stretching all the time, right?
Head Coach Leah Pinette demonstrating the proper flat split position, with hips square, front leg up, back leg down, and nice posture.
IMPROPER flat split position with hips rolled out.

Leah Pinette (Head Coach):  Yes.  We want the girls to achieve flat
splits, but in the proper position, which is up and down, not sideways.  Sideways, or “rolled out” as we say, actually works different muscles than you use for a proper flat split, and it creates imbalances.  So we want the girls thinking more about alignment of their legs, keeping their hips square, and maintaining a nice posture when stretching.  Stretching from a proper position will feel differently than from an improper one – and they may not be able to get down as far when they first start doing it properly; but in the long run, it’s better if they just go as far as they can using the proper technique.

ANA Synchro:  Tell us about your weekly pool workouts this summer.
Leah Pinette (Head Coach):  To accommodate camps and vacation, we are inviting girls to sign up by the week for pool workouts.  We have pool time Monday through Friday all summer long, and we want to work on swimming technique, sculling technique, basics like the support scull, and figures. We will be tailoring the content of each week based on who signs up.
ANA Synchro:  Swimming technique?  Why do synchro athletes need good stroke technique?
Leah Pinette (Head Coach):  General swimming technique matters a lot!  After all, what we do might be “synchronized,” but it’s still “swimming.”  When someone is a better/stronger swimmer, it shows in any synchronized swimming performance. Athletes will have better speed, better endurance, smoother transitions, and they’ll be less prone to injury if they have better swimming technique.  We are fortunate to have two coaches, Meaghan and Erica, who did speed swimming in college and who will be around this summer to coach.  They have been invaluable in passing along swimming tips.  Plus, we will be sharing pool time with the Y’s Hurricanes Swim Team, so I hope to tap into their coaches’ expertise and knowledge as well.
ANA Synchro:  What is “sculling” and what does it have to do with synchronized swimming?

Leah Pinette (HeadCoach):  Sculling refers to the propulsive moves a swimmer makes with her hands and forearms.  In synchronized swimming, we have about 10 different types of sculls for different purposes.  Some enable you to stay stationary while executing a move with your legs; others allow you to spin; still others enable you to travel through the water.  It can look effortless, especially the way some of the more experienced athletes do it, but I assure you it’s very difficult.  And sculling can be a challenge to teach because it can be a little different swimmer to swimmer.  A swimmer really has to find the motion that works and is efficient for their particular body.  You don’t think of a liquid like water being something you can “grab,” but that’s how we talk about it – finding the right “grab” or “pull” in the water with a scull.

ANA Synchro:  Finally, about the clinic in August…If girls have been working on conditioning and stretching all summer, and if the season is just about to start, why should they also sign up for a clinic?
Olympian Mary Killman (center, yellow) will be joining Head Coach Leah Pinette (right, blue) in coaching a clinic in August.

Leah Pinette (Head Coach):  You get everything in a full-day clinic like the one we will host.  You get synchro skills; you get land activities; you get seminars.  We’re also looking to do Pilates, some dance, and some yoga.  All of these cross-training activities are great for synchro; we just don’t have time for them in normal practice.  So, a full-day clinic is a great way to expose the girls to many different training techniques from different instructors, and they’ll be able to say what they liked and what worked well for their body.  We are thrilled to have Mary Killman help us out with this year’s clinic.  Mary went to the Olympics in 2012 and, earlier this year, helped Lindenwood University win the collegiate championship.  I know Mary, and she will not only be an excellent teacher for the girls, she will undoubtedly inspire them all to do their best.

ANA Synchro:  How do people sign up for the weekly pool workouts and the August clinic?
Leah Pinette (Head Coach):  You can call the front desk of the Y (978-685-3541) or go on-line to register for the weekly pool workouts.  Go to; click on “Program Registration” in the upper right; type in “synchro” to the search box; click on “Synchro Clinic”; and choose the week or weeks you want to sign up for.  And you can go to our website, to download the flyer and the sign-up form for the August clinic.  Interested athletes can email me ( with any questions.