Sports

Santa Clara Aquamaids make it 13 in a row at U.S. Nationals

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

It was lucky number 13 for the Santa Clara Aquamaids. The California team won their 13th consecutive team title Saturday at The Aflac National Synchronized Swimming Championships inside the King County Aquatic Center.

The three-day competition brought the most elite synchronized swimmers from around the nation and also yielded the United States National Team. The team will commit to a three-year program in preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.

The National Team, selected Saturday, is Heather Burdick (Ohio State University), Poppy Carlig (Stanford University), Danielle Kramer (University of the Incarnate Word), Jessica McMahon (Santa Clara Aquamaids), Barbara Nesbitt (Riverside Aquettes), Katherine Norris (Stanford), Leah Pinette (Ohio State), Leayn Pinette (Ohio State), Alicia Rice (Santa Clara) and Layla Smith (Santa Clara). There is still one spot pending.

Stanford University finished a close second behind Santa Clara in the overall team standings and the Walnut Creek Aquanuts finished third overall.

Stanford’s Norris nabbed gold in solo, and took home the Esther Williams Creative Achievement Award for her artistic impression. Santa Clara’s Christina Jones finished second in the solo, first in the duet, along with teammate Andrea Nott, and was also part of the gold medal-winning team.

Thomas Jefferson High School graduate Natalie Chase’s University of the Incarnate Word (San Antonio) team failed to make it into the final swim after Friday’s preliminary round. They finished 10th and only the top-eight qualified for Saturday’s final round. In the duet competition, Chase and teammate Emily Van Vleck ended up in 14th place in preliminary action.

Emma Miller and Charlene Walton, both Federal Way residents, also failed to qualify for the finals. Miller and Walton swim for the Seattle Synchro Swim Team. Miller is a sophomore at TJ and Walton is a sophomore at Holy Names Academy in Seattle.

The King County Aquatic Center has developed into the premiere pool in the United States for hosting national synchronized swimming events. Last weekend’s meet was the third national championship event held in Federal Way in the last five years, including the 1999 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, the 2001 Esynchro Junior World Championships and the 2003 U.S. Open.

“They just love coming to our facility,” said Renee Miller, the Auburn resident who is acting as meet manager at the U.S. Nationals. “The businesses are very responsive to our needs.”

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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