In from the fringe
Sunday 29 April 2007, 7:53PM
Water proof make up, super tight costumes, gel, gelatine, the ever present nose clip, more colour than a Broadway musical and the cut throat competition that can only come from a girls only sport are all part of Kirstin AndersonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s day at the pool.
Synchronised swimming is not your average Saturday sport and if any one asked Kirstin how much work went into her it they could well be in for a shock.
Her training routine, alone, takes nearly 40 hours a week and some incredible sacrifices for a 17-year-old girl.
Waking up at five oÃ¢â‚¬â„¢clock five mornings a week and training twice most days has given Kirstin the ability to achieve things qualify most girls her age would only dream of.
In the last year she has been to Australia three times and Malaysia twice, along with various other trips around New Zealand to try to qualify for the Fina Junior World Synchronised Swimming Championships in Foshan, east of Guangzhou, China.
The breakthrough finally came for Kirstin at the Oceania Games in Brisbane last year where she was third in both the solo and team events for New Zealand.
The Oceania games were her last chance to qualify and all the practice finally paid off.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I had been trying to qualify for a year and a half and have been training almost every day, going to get dance, swim training and flexing every day,Ã¢â‚¬Â Kirstin said.
Fitting it all in with school has not been too much of an issue for Kirstin, but missing out on some of the social things has been harder for the GirlsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ High boarder.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been too bad, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m passing.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have to compromise things like going out with my friends too much.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You have to sacrifice that in order to fit everything in.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They think I am crazy because I get up at 5 in the morning and they canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t understand why I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t go out with them.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s easier when you think about the goal,Ã¢â‚¬Â Kirstin said.
With such a competitive nature Kirstin started out with swimming but didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like going up and down the lane and soon became bored.
The fun of getting dressed up in stage make-up and performing soon had Kirstin hooked on Synchro and it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t long before she made the switch to Synchro a permanent one.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Synchro is more to my liking as well as being better at Synchro than swimming and I have get to go so many places.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It carries me further and I enjoy it,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said.
One of KirstinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s close friends and national representative swimmer Carrie Smith has been in awe of her success and sees her performances as being on a level with any top-level swimmer.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“She doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t let things get in her way and she likes what she does,Ã¢â‚¬Â Carrie said.
Her friends at school have been really supportive and think its awesome that she gets to go places they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They know how dedicated she is.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“She still makes time for her friends in her busy schedule,Ã¢â‚¬Â Carrie said.
Along with her friends she has many other supporters and one more enthused than Synchronised Swimming New Zealand chairwoman Sue Edwards who has been impressed with KirstinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s qualifying and compared her with the last swimmer who went to the junior worlds, Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Lisa Daniels.
Edwards believes Kirstin will follow in her footsteps.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“She is a stunning athlete. She has an excellent combination of talent and work ethic and to cap it off she is a lovely young lady.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I consider that she is certainly a prospect for the Commonwealth Games in India in 2010,Ã¢â‚¬Â Edwards said.
Some of the learning curves have been steep, but by watching those who have beaten her Kirstin has learned what to work on.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“In Malaysia I was looking at other girls my age.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I looked at what they were doing well and what I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I took those things on board and think about them when I am training,Ã¢â‚¬Â Kirstin said.
With swimmers from Russia, Canada and America dominating the world scene, Kirstin has benefited from the help of Canadian coach Jennifer Monk who has worked with some of CanadaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best and knows the sort of work that needs to be done to rise to the top of the sport.
Although the sport is fringe in New Zealand, Kirstin has had her chances boosted with the recent success of Dunedin swimmers Nina and Lisa Daniels, who won bronze in the duet at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, and trained with Kirstin in Invercargill afterwards.