Friday, Feb 15 2018
team debuts as a team built for all, Espoir games May 29 - June 2
Keith, exec. director
ynchronized swimmers made history this
weekend in Surrey, BC, Canada when athletes with and without
disabilities competed together on the same team.
The team from the BC Aquasonics
Synchronized Swim Club entered this combined team into the new mixed
ability competition category, which creates inclusive development
and competition opportunity for all athletes.
“Canada has long been a world leader
in adaptive synchronized swimming,” says Synchro BC President,
RaeAnne Rose, “but this year Synchro BC launched what we understand
to be the world’s first ever competitive category for mixed ability
synchronized swimming. It’s a huge ‘made in BC’ step forward to
create inclusive opportunities in our sport.”
in a mixed ability team or duet and
attend all of Synchro BC’s competitions in the province. Each
athlete competes in their respective age and level appropriate
figure events and then enters the duet or team event in the age
category of the average age of the athletes. Judges use the standard
marking scale. At least one athlete on the team must be registered
as an adaptive athlete.
Melinda Markser, who is a long time adaptive coach and sits on
Synchro BC’s advisory committee for adaptive synchro, believes that
this move by Synchro BC is unique. “In each sport, there are
opportunities for people of all abilities to develop their sport
specific skills but competitions are still segregated. Synchro BC is
modeling the meaning of inclusion. Imagine if we had mixed ability
categories in other team sports and in higher levels of competition.
That would truly be building a global inclusive sport environment."
The BC Aquasonics team, coached by Erin Williams (Surrey), includes
Izabella Vasicek, Avery Hong, Stephanie Papillo, and Sara Mihailoff
of Coquitlam, and Kaytlin Reynolds of Surrey.
Leah Papillo, mother of team member, Stephanie Papillo, explains the
value of the mixed ability team. “The experience of watching my
14-year-old daughter participate in a sport she is passionate about,
have a meaningful role on a team with her peers, and being valued as
an athlete is more meaningful than anyone can imagine for a mother.
My daughter beams with pride and walks with confidence. Being on a
team with her friends is all she has ever wanted – besides the
sparkly swimsuits and the medals of course!”
the introduction of the mixed ability category, Synchro BC has
created a better opportunity for adaptive synchro athletes to be
included on teams, instead of just individual events.
In 2017, Stephanie Papillo was a gold
medalist in the solo event at the Espoir National Synchronized
Swimming Championships. She says, “It was exhilarating but it is
boring practicing by yourself and being alone. I don't like being
Now on a team, Stephanie says, “My team treats me like a normal
person. It's easier to remember my counts because my team helps me.
My teammates make me laugh and I make them laugh too. My team gets
to swim twice and I get to swim twice now too - a solo routine and a
This spring, the team will compete at the Mabel Moran Synchronized
Swimming Championships (Lower Mainland Regionals) in Richmond (April
13-15, 2018) and the Jean Peters Provincial Championships in
Victoria (May 11 – 13, 2018).
About Synchro BC
Columbia Amateur Synchronized Swimming Association (Synchro BC)
governs the sport of Synchronized Swimming in our province,
providing opportunities for athletes, coaches, officials and
volunteers. Our programs include a wide range of participation,
recreational, and competitive levels for participants of all ages,
genders, and skill levels. Synchronized swimming has been an
organized sport in BC since 1952 and Synchro BC was registered as a
not-for-profit organization in 1980.
Synchro BC is hosting the
2018 Synchro Canada Open and
Canadian Espoir Synchronized Swimming Championships May 29 to
June 2, 2018 at the Surrey Sport and Leisure Complex in Surrey,
British Columbia. One of ten stops on the
FINA Artistic Swimming World Series, the Synchro Canada Open
will host the some of the top synchronized swimmers from around the
For general information, e-mail
Partners and Sponsors
Canadian Sport Institute
City of Surrey
Province of British Columbia
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