Robert Bailey, Sunday Gleaner Writer
In a bid to improve the standard of the sport, Synchro Stars Jamaica swimming club has acquired the services of two judges from FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation), swimming's world governing body, to conduct a number of coaching courses during next month's staging of Jamaica International Synchronised Swimming Championships, which will be held from October 6-8.
They are FINA evaluator Judy McGowan and clinician Charlotte Davis, who along with swimmer Emily Drew - all from the United States - will be conducting a number of strategic coaching seminars with local officials that are geared towards improving their ability to judge the sport.
"Never in the history of the Caribbean have we ever had a combination of this magnitude of experience and knowledge of a top-ranking FINA evaluator, a clinician and demonstrator," said Diahann Campbell, meet manager and chairperson of Synchro Stars Jamaica.
"The FINA evaluator will be having private sessions with the Jamaican judges to better judge what they see in the water and to better understand the judging scale that we are governed by FINA," Campbell explained.
"This will certainly help to push the level of judging in the country, as well as improving the level of swimmers that we have in Jamaica."
Continuing, Campbell said: "If Jamaica is to go ahead in sychronised swimming we have to invest in bringing the expertise here, as it is more economical and practical than us going there."
She added that her association is still seeking additional sponsorship for the championships because it will cost over US$4,000 (J$392,000) to bring these experts to the championships.
Natalie Neita-Headley, minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for sports, said the Government will be looking at ways to improve the standard of the sport.
"Let me say how pleased I am to experience first-hand the vision in sight and boldness of the clubs to agree to host an event of this magnitude," said Neita-Headley during the event launch on Thursday at the Knutsford Court hotel. "We know this is not your first effort and we all tend to get better based on past experiences."
She added: "This is why I am supporting the development of bilateral relationships in the area of sport and in particular, seeking to secure additional synchronised swimming coaches to assist in strengthening our programme. You have my full support and commitment and I am looking for you to be part of 'Vision 2016'."
Synchronised swimming involves dancing and gymnastics and other elaborate moves in water accompanied by music. Artistry, flexibility, grace, precise timing and endurance with strong breath control, especially when upside down under water, are key factors in this hybrid form of swimming.
The championships will be held at the YMCA facility for the first two days and Bournemouth Bath on the final day, with the United States, Canada and Curaçao expected to participate. The championships have been divided into specific categories and will have competition for Novices, Intermediate, Age-group performers and Masters doing solo, duet, trio and team sequences.