Sydney and Eryn Schmisseur found the sport of synchronized swimming somewhat serendipitously.
The Ahwatukee sisters got their first taste of the sport when some family friends invited them to try the sport for a day.
“They had a ‘synchro for a day thing’ during the summer and then after that we signed up for it the next season,” said 16-year-old Sydney Schmisseur, a sophomore at Desert Vista.
Jill Parr, the Schmisseur’s coach at Scottsdale Synchro near Thompson Peak Parkway and Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard, immediately knew Eryn and Sydney could be special.
“I was excited, I thought they had a lot of talent and potential,” Parr said. “They definitely were young, it’s good to start when they’re young, and they definitely were athletic and enthusiastic.”
Synchronized swimming isn’t a very conventional sport but its combination of other disciplines is what drew 14-year-old Eryn, who attends St. John Bosco, to the water.
“It includes so many other sports that I used to do like dance, speed swimming and gymnastics,” she said.
Seven years later, the sisters from Ahwatukee placed in the top three in every event they entered at the Arizona Age Group State Championships last month.
Sydney, in her 16- to 17-year-old age group, took third place in figures, second place in team, and a first place finish with her trio.
Younger sister Eryn finished second place in figures and solo along with a pair of first place finishes in duet and trio in her 13- to 15-year-old age group.
Their top three finishes in each event qualify the Schmisseur sisters for the regional meet this Saturday and Sunday and, with top three finishes in regionals, the sisters could compete at the U.S. Age Group Nationals in Riverside, Calif., June 21-29.
To prepare for regionals, the Schmisseur sisters train Monday through Thursday for three hours and go through a grueling six-hour session on Saturdays, starting at 8 a.m.
“It’s hard to get up,” Sydney said with a chuckle. “But all the work is going to pay off, hopefully.”
For as much time as they spend training, they spend nearly as much driving to northern Scottsdale where their team’s pool is located.
The roughly 26-mile drive is one of the closest for the Schmisseurs but for Sydney, her team makes the drive worth it.
“There’s actually not a lot of teams in Arizona. This is probably the closest team to Ahwatukee for us,” Schmisseur said. “But I just love this team, all the girls on it and the coach, I love it.”
With that love for the sport, there are options for the Schmisseur sisters if they continue their synchronized swimming careers.
“There’s collegiate programs people can be involved in and there’s also the Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas…Le Reve, so there’s opportunities for those kinds of things,” Parr said. “Ohio State and Stanford are the two top programs at the moment.”
Although a possibility, those futures are still off in the distance. The West Zone Regionals are immediately in front of the Schmisseur sisters.
Competing against the best at regionals and nationals is what Sydney is focusing on.
“It’s exciting,” she said. “It’s more of the elite competition so it’s hard, but it’s good.”
• Eric Smith is a junior journalism major at Arizona State University. He is a summer intern at the AFN.