Sea Stars synchronized swimming is fun, competitive and rewarding

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Synchronized swimmer Paul Palomeres will be heading off to Belgium soon to participate in a synchronized swimming competition with the San Diego Sea Stars. With serious swim dance skills he is all but guaranteed to fair well.

The “So Esthers”, and Palomeres, performed at their 3rd annual Water World show at Valhalla High School on July 20 with mermaid tails, legs shooting out of the pool water in precision dance moves, and other synchronized fun moves.

Synchronized swimmer Paul Palomeres will be heading off to Belgium soon to participate in a synchronized swimming competition with the San Diego Sea Stars. With serious swim dance skills he is all but guaranteed to fair well.

The “So Esthers”, and Palomeres, performed at their 3rd annual Water World show at Valhalla High School on July 20 with mermaid tails, legs shooting out of the pool water in precision dance moves, and other synchronized fun moves.

“So Esther” is how Julee Lashley, one of the Sea Star’s swim coaches, describes synchronized swimming. After Esther Williams, to be exact, the synchronized swimming movie star of the 1940’s and 50’s.

Heather Zimkin, whose 11-year-old daughter Kayla is in her first year of being a Sea Star, heard about the program from a friend of hers who had already participated in the synchronized swimming.

“Kayla wanted to try it. She and I think swimming is pretty,” Zimkin said.

Kayla participated in another part of synchronized swimming production, the music selection of the songs played poolside and under the water as well. On her playlist?  The “Mortal Kombat Theme Song” aka “Techno Syndrome” and Toni Basil’s “Hey Mickey.”

Lashley comes naturally to the sport with her mother Julie Howell having led the Sweetwater Dolphins synchronized swim club for years.  

Along with her sister Christine Barnes, they both participated in the sport for years. Barnes said her sister is one performer she admires.

“She’s the bomb! She swims, she dances, everything. She’s an amazing talent,” she said.

Some aquatic gymnastics are useful in a sport that some call water ballet. Synchronized swimming was added as a sport during the summer Olympics in 1984.

Zimkin said teams travel to Arizona, Los Angeles, and Nevada to compete.

“We’ve gone international. Mexico City came to East County to compete,” said Zimkin.

Lashley starts swimmers out as young as four and while she dispelled the rumor that watching Sponge Bob Square Pants cartoon was an influence, she said begins her swimmers out after they prove they have a knack for swimming. Some performers have the ability to swim underwater two lengths of a pool holding their breath.

This past year the Sea Stars’ 13-15 year old team was undefeated, the 11-12 year olds were nearly undefeated, taking top honors in all but one second place meet, and its most senior 18-19-year-olds, swimmer Kirsten Hutzler advanced to the U.S. Age Group Nationals and placed 3rd in figures and 6th in solo.

While their synchronized swimmers not only compete they have also had swimmers lend their skills in commercials, Aflac, performed at weddings and private parties.

Lashley said many swimmers have gone to college on scholarships thanks to their synchronized swimming skills.

An opportunity for other swimmers, male and female, to join the team will be at the up and coming auditions on Saturday, July 27th, at 11:00 a.m. at Mt. Miguel High School. 

For more information about the San Diego Sea Stars and to see photos and videos of its performances visit www.sandiegoseastars.shutterfly.com.

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