16-year-old Yukon boy breaking barriers in synchronized swimming
It was a performance that brought the everyone to a standstill.
Eyes all locked on the competition pool at the Repsol Sport Centre in Calgary.
Not necessarily because of the routine, or the elements within it, but more — who was performing it.
Of the 445 athletes competing at the Canadian Artistic Swimming (formerly synchronized swimming) Qualifier this week, Camron Maguire is in a league of his own.
“It’s the first time we’ve had a male soloist at this level in a long, long time,” Synchro Canada CEO, Jackie Buckingham said.
The 16-year-old came all the way from Whitehorse, Yukon for his first experience at a national level.
“I was expecting maybe a few (people) to just be like, ‘Oh there’s a guy… cool,'” Camron said.
“My team told me that everyone stopped, in the middle of their routine, the ones that were over there practicing, and just watched. So that’s an interesting feeling having all those eyes on you.”
But of all the curious spectators, no one was more invested than his mother.
“Every time he goes out there, I’m just so proud of him,” Cheryl Maguire said while fighting back tears after his first performance of the week.
“He’s just out there making his statement and I think he’ll do that his whole life. And I sure hope that other young guys see that and say, ‘Oh if he can do that, then I sure can too.'”
Camron is still relatively new to the sport of synchronized swimming, starting just over four years ago.
“My sisters were in synchro and I was like, ‘Sounds fun,'” he said. “I like swimming, so I joined and I had fun the first year so I stayed in it.”
“He’s not afraid of being who he is and he’s in high school, he’s 16,” Cheryl said. “You can imagine that some of his guy friends think it’s odd or unusual.
“They don’t tease him, but he’s not the kind of kid that would really react to that anyway.”
And in synchro circles, Camron’s mere presence is bringing a lot of excitement.
“The whole sport is becoming a lot more respective of gender,” Buckingham said.
“We’re just really excited about the potential of having males involved in the sport will bring to the dynamic of the sport. We’re really hoping he’s a pioneer and more will come behind him.”
It’s something Camron would also love to see.
“I want to get more guys into synchro,” he said. “A whole team of males, pretty much. Not just me doing a solo, but groups of guys… and younger boys.”
“I’ve always taught my children… that equality and gender — it’s not about what girls can do, what boys can do, it’s about what you want to do and it’s about being true to yourself,” Cheryl said.
And there’s no question, Camron has taken his mothers advice.
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