Olympic qualification a tough routine
A TRIO of SupaNova Synchronised Swimming Club (SSSC) coaches will compete on the world’s biggest stage after being selected for the Australian Rio Olympics team.
Danielle Kettlewell, Waterford resident Deborah Tsai and Amie Thompson will travel to Brazil in August hoping to improve on Australia’s best-ever seventh place finish at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
The women were all born outside the country – in Canada, Singapore and England – but qualify for Australian citizenship.
“I was still living in Canada in 2014 when I was approached by Australia’s assistant head coach at the time and asked if I wanted to try out for the national team,” Kettlewell said.
Tsai and Thompson were already in Perth and the women helped Australia secure Olympic qualification at the Synchronised Swimming World Championships in Russia last year.
“The way synchro qualification works is there are five continental spots and then the next best three are also selected,” Tsai said.
“We were going for the Oceania spot and it came down to having to beat New Zealand.”
The Australian team swam second and had to endure a nervous wait to find out their fate, with the Kiwis the 22nd team to take to the pool.
“As a team, we sat in the warm-up pool and watched their swim while all holding hands,” Kettlewell said.
“New Zealand had improved so much since the we saw them last and we were nervous that they might defeat us.
“But up came the scores and sure enough, we beat them.”
The women had one more hurdle to clear before stamping their own individual tickets.
“Earlier this year, we had two days of Olympic team trials at HBF Stadium in front of four international judges,” Thompson said.
“After the trials, the three of us separated and agreed to a code – if we got in, we would text each other just a thumbs up, and if we didn’t, just a thumbs down.”
It was thumbs up all round and the three women will travel to Spain later this month to put the finishing touches on their two Olympic routines.
“One is a technical routine and one is a free routine,” Tsai said.
“The technical routine has certain elements that you have to do in a certain order and everyone does those elements, with your own choreography made up around that. In the free routine, you can kind of do whatever you want and it’s a lot more interesting and artistic.”
In a sport dominated by Russia, China and Japan, the women are realistic about their Olympic chances.
“We are not looking to medal; it’s more about having the best performance that we can and doing the best that Australia has ever done,” Kettlewell said.
The synchronised swimming events run from August 14 to 19.
Australia’s Olympic synchronised swimming coaches Deborah Tsai, Danielle Kettlewell and Amie Thompson.