By Samantha Stuefer -When we think of unflavored gelatin mix, the last place we think of putting it is in our hair. Not for AquaLinks, though.They use the gelatin to keep their hair rock hard and in place, so it doesn’t get in their eyes while they swim.
AquaLinks is Lincoln High’s synchronized swimming team. Synchronized swimming is a team of swimmers that perform coordinated or identical movements to music in water. Synchronized swimming is actually an Olympic sport, but the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) doesn’t consider it one, so they are technically a club. Even though it is technically a club, they still have practices like any other sport, sometimes practicing five to seven hours at a time. They also will be holding a show May 12th and 13th.
“This year’s show has the theme of School’s Out,” Franz said. “The opening act has a song from the movie “School of Rock.” Students will be sitting at their desks and then transition into playing guitar(inflatable safe ones of course) before they jump into the pool. The closing act students will wave huge glow sticks the size of their arms to the song “I’ve got a feeling” by Black Eyed Peas in which they eventually create a dance circle before jumping into the water. Audience members will also get glow sticks to join in the fun.”
AquaLinks have about a month and a half to prepare for a show.
Franz did synchronized swimming in high school and has always loved it.
“It’s kind of a dying sport, unfortunately,” Franz said. “If you ask around, many high schools don’t have it anymore.”
But, compared to other years, this year may be a little different for Franz to coach.
“This year we have a combination of middle school students from Park Middle School and students from Lincoln High on the team,” Franz said. “It’s provided returning members the opportunity to practice leadership skills. It’s truly an inspirational feeling to see them look up to the high school students. I thought to myself, ‘why not let them be in our show this year?’ The full team of eight swimmers( 4 girls and 4 guys) meets up on Saturdays.”
“See, we have Little Links, which are middle schoolers that want to join this,” junior Gabrielle Dalton-Kotrous said. “But, due to her (Franz) schedule, she can’t do it.”
Dalton-Kotrous has been on AquaLinks for two years and will be taking over the team next year.
The Little Links are only in the opening and closing of this year’s five acts.
Dalton-Kotrous’s mother, Heidi, who is also an assistant to head coach, and her daughter have made the decision to let her take over the team, especially because she has so much experience with AquaLinks and because she will be a senior next year.
Dalton-Kotrous does actually have asthma, and being a part of AquaLinks has built up her cardio, making it easier for her to breathe. She feels good about being on the team because it helps her feel empowered. She’s excited to be taking it over and helping others with something she is fond of.
A freshman Saylor Mack actually got the solo this year. Her solo has been choreographed to ‘Stay’ by Rihanna. Franz did choreograph the piece, but is hoping that the team will be able to choreograph their own acts as a future goal.
Mack decided to join AquaLinks because almost all of her siblings did it.
“I thought it was the coolest sport ever,” Mack said. “Like, it just looked so amazing how you could do all those moves on the water.”
“I feel like I have gone extremely far,” Mack said. “Especially with the help of everyone teaching me these moves.”
Mack is at Level 2 difficulty, and she has exceeded most freshman.
The senior on the team is Rachel Pierson.
“Honestly, it’s so crazy how much time has passed,” Pierson said. She is excited for the show coming up.
There are also some requirements for AquaLinks.
“A positive attitude with a will to learn a new uncommon sport,” Franz said. “Hard working athletes. You don’t necessarily have to know how to swim. All I want are students who want to have fun and try something new. Isn’t that what High School is all about? To step out of your comfort zone and try something new. I’d also say that a requirement to be in AquaLinks is to not be afraid of a challenge because it is a very hard sport to learn and putting on a show for the high school is an even greater challenge.”
“If you are anyone that is deciding to come join, make sure you are willing to work hard,” Dalton-Kortrous said. “Yes, this will be fun, but this is no fluff thing. You must be prepared to work. If you aren’t, this isn’t the sport for you.”