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‘It’s a tough sell’: synchro swimmers try to attract more boys to the sport

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Synchro swimmers try to attract more boys to the sport
WATCH: Young athletes across the country are gearing up to get back into action when the new school year kicks off. And as Gil Tucker shows us, some Calgary coaches are on a recruiting drive, trying to free their sport from an outdated stigma. – Aug 22, 2022

Young athletes across Canada are gearing up to get back into action when the new school year kicks off, and some Calgary coaches are on a recruiting drive — trying to free their sport from an outdated stigma.

The coaches involved are connected to synchronized swimming or ‘synchro’ — a sport that’s recently been renamed artistic swimming.

About 60 swimmers from several parts of the country began a weeklong training camp, run by the Calgary Aquabelles club, in Calgary on Monday, Aug. 22.

“They’ve come from Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Nova Scotia and B.C.,” Aquabelles head coach Jenn Trigale said.

But Trigale noted there’s one thing missing.

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“Unfortunately, we don’t have any boys,” Trigale said.

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“I think there’s a bit of a stigma in the sport that it’s a girl’s sport.”

The Aquabelles tried to deal with that stigma during the summer of 2022 by offering free basic introduction-to-synchro lessons at outdoor pools around the city.

But after eight sessions, the overall total number of boys who’d shown up was only five.

“It’s a tough sell,” Trigale said. “But it’s no different than ballet or dance or gymnastics, and I don’t think it’s anything that boys should be ashamed of or be afraid to try.

“It’s a great sport”

Athletes training at the Calgary camp say the sport is well worth trying.

“I like that it teaches you a few of life’s most important lessons, including teamwork and discipline,” 10-year-old swimmer Aurelia Strickert said, “and it also teaches you how to get along with other people.”

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The Aquabelles will continue their efforts to attract boys to the sport.

“I would love to have some boys join the club, because it’s the future of the sport,” Trigale said. “The mixed duet has turned into quite the huge event and the next step is to put mixed duet into the Olympic games, so it’s a great opportunity for a boy to make his way to the Olympics.”

Many girls involved in the sport say they’d love to have more boys join them in the pool.

“My brother actually did synchro for a few years and he was actually pretty good,” Strickert said.

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