Justine Bowman can hold her breath for more than a minute and a half.
The 14-year-old Linwood Public School student impressed her classmates with that tidbit of information during a sendoff they held for Bowman to the national synchronized swimming competition this weekend.
Bowman is a part a team from the Waterloo Regional Synchronized Swim Club that is heading to Gatineau, Quebec to compete in the 2011 Canadian Espoir Championships.
This is the first time Bowman will be heading to the national finals, and she’s more than a little excited.
“It’s just fantastic, I can’t wait to go,” said Bowman.” I am so proud of my team’s accomplishments and the fact that we get to compete nationally.”
Bowman has been synchronized swimming for the last five years since her mother, Joanna, thought she was getting restless and bored with her regular swimming lessons and signed her up.
“I just wanted more for her, she seemed to be getting really fed up with just swimming, so I took them to the club and they tested her out and put her onto a team – we have never looked back since,” said Joanna.
Synchronized swimming combined the love Bowman had for both dance and swimming into one sport.
“It takes a lot of flexibility, breath control and strength,” said Bowman. “It’s a lot more challenging to perform under water. During practices we learn to count to the music, we work out our movements as a team and keep very precise time with every movement we make. They can be quite intense workouts.”
Bowman will compete on Friday with 220 competitors during figures, which are the individual performances the swimmers do in front of judges.
“We go in front of the five judges individually and present to them, showing them our skills, like height in the water, flexibility and breath-control combinations. Then they give us marks,” said Bowman. “Marks are combined to make an average and the whole teams marks are added up to make an average and they add that to our team score, which becomes our championship score.”
At this years competition the top 25 girls will be chosen to go on to Canada’s national team. They progress from there, with a chance to go to the Olympics.
“It would be great to one day make it that far. Right now I am concentrating on this weekend and future events so that I can be a great competitive swimmer.”