Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
Synchronized swimming in Jamaica is set to receive a huge push with the visit of top-ranked FINA official and expert in the sport, Jennifer Gray.
Gray, a retired principal lecturer and field chair for sport and coaching, who studies at Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom, is slated to arrive in the island on September 30.
She will conduct numerous training sessions for athletes, coaches and parents alike during her nine-day stay and will also deliver two lectures to coaches at G.C. Foster College and the University of Technology.
Gray's time in the island will coincide with the fifth annual Jamaica International Synchronized Swimming Championships. The championships will be held on October 3 and 4 instead of the usual three days.
"We have cut it down to two days to facilitate more training," meet manager for this year's championships, Diahann Campbell, explained.
"More can be had from training with her, because she is going to actually teach you the next step."
Campbell, former vice-president of synchronized swimming for the Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica and council member, deems Gray's visit to be vital to the development of the sport.
"Jamaica is at a tipping point as to whether it can make a name for itself in the sport or not and, for the past three years, we have been bringing in expertise and the next level of expertise we need is Jennifer Gray," Campbell said.
"She is going to be able to write the report to FINA detailing what we are doing in Jamaica, how we have improved as a sport and from that, all things being equal, we can secure funding, whether in the form of a national programme, continuously, or not."
The benefits to be derived from Gray's impending visit do not stop there, however, as Campbell, who is also chairperson for local synchronized swimming club, Synchro Stars, explained.
"The other thing that makes critical for her to come to Jamaica is that every four years the figures in synchronized swimming changes," Campbell explained.
"So the new figures were introduced in July in Barcelona, so it is the first it is being introduced in the English-speaking Caribbean.
"She (Gray) is one of those who chooses the figures, she wrote a book on transition, which is critical in synchro, and she is coming with her books and her tapes with the new figures. So we are going to be taught the new figures by the expert and that will help us in the upcoming year."
The Sports Development Foun-dation and diaspora in the United Kingdom, through Beverly Lindsay, who has raised funds to fund Gray's tickets, have come on board to help offset the close to half-a-million dollars needed to finance Gray's visit, but it is not enough.
"We are seeking funding to get her here, and I truly believe that when someone of her expertise comes, other people should gain from her and she is heavy into cross training," Campbell shared.