Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Dustin Cook

STAYING AFLOAT — The Northern Novas Synchronized Swimming Club trains three days a week to prepare for the up coming season including the 2018 Canadian Qualifier Championships March 20-25 in Calgary.

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Photo by Dustin Cook

Northern Novas have their eyes on nationals

Head coach Aura-Lea Harper rolled out a huge bin filled with large jugs.

By Dustin Cook on November 17, 2017

Head coach Aura-Lea Harper rolled out a huge bin filled with large jugs. She handed out two each to her athletes in the water.

This was the scene at the end of the hour-long practice for the Northern Novas Synchronized Swimming Club Tuesday evening at the Canada Games Centre.

“They’re basically a floatation device to keep them propped in the water,” Harper said following the practice. “It just helps with their positions.

The young team, donning their Northern Novas swim caps, practiced their flips and leg extensions using the jugs to hold them up in the water as they practiced the techniques.

The team trains Tuesdays, Thursdays and four hours on Sundays, Harper said.

Harper is in her 13th season as coach of the team and also swam for 12 years competing in three Canada Games for the Yukon.

And that is the competition this team under Harper is working towards as well – the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta.

“Canada Games of course in 2019, we’re hoping to get there,” Harper said. “That’s our ultimate goal.”

But before then, the team is gearing up for a chance to compete at the national level in the 2018 Canadian Qualifier Championships.

The competition will include all the top teams hoping to qualify for the national championships a month later and will run March 20-25 in Calgary.

The team has yet to compete in a synchronized swimming event this season, with the Yukon Championships as their first test in February, but that didn’t stop them from getting a taste of competition in another discipline.

The team competed in the Ryan Downing Memorial Swim Meet for the first time in its history.

Synchro Yukon president Keith Maquire said part of the competition includes individual testing that goes towards the team’s overall scores and this year they are going to be timed in some of the events.

“It’s just a good way to prepare for timed events and it’s also an excellent opportunity to experience competition,” said Maguire, who has been Synchro Yukon president for two years with three kids on the Novas. “I think they were pretty excited and they did well.”

For their first meet, the team excelled and swam well, Harper said.

“It was a little nerve-racking, I was even nervous. I’ve never done it before but it was an awesome experience for us. We did really well,” she said.

The Novas are the only affiliate of Synchro Yukon and will likely be the only team at the championships, Maguire said.

But it will give them the team their first competition experience before they travel.

The team has been in the pool earlier this year than in the past, Harper said, in an effort to get the routines competed before the end of December to be ready for the competitions early in the new year.

There are two separate groups as well as a recreational group with several different routines including duet and individual competitions.

Towards the end of the season, the Novas also plan to travel to Richmond, B.C. for their annual trip to the Mabel Moran Championships April 13-15.

The season will culminate in the annual Spring Water Show in May where the team will perform their polished routines in front of the home crowd for the final time.

Since starting as the coach 13 years ago, Harper said the number of synchro athletes has gone down, but they have seen an influx in the past year getting involved.

Harper was drawn to the sport at a young age by how unique it was and different than other competitions.

“What drew me to it was it’s so interesting,” she said. “It’s dancing in the water but it’s super hard, which I don’t think people understand.”

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