After more than three hours of swimming on May 9, starting with a junior varsity figure competition and continuing through exhibition and varsity solos, duets, trios and team performances, the Forest Lake and Stillwater synchronized swimming teams – two of the state’s powerhouses in the sport – were told by the announcer to “take a breath.”
After a pause, the final scores were announced, with an assurance that the judges had added up the numbers a second time to make sure: Forest Lake, 23; Stillwater, 23.
“A tie in a routine meet is very uncommon. I have never seen it before,” head coach Laura Davison said.
The shocking overall result came less than a minute after the Rangers had found out that their No. 1 team routine, “Kung Fu,” had defeated its Stillwater counterpart 70.833 to 70.5. In a dual meet, the top team routine earns 10 points, leaving the defeated team with two. The Ranger routine was performed by seniors Megan Palmer, Michelle Perkins, Mika Peterson and Paige Thurnbeck, and juniors Brecken Carr, Fallon Olson, Kenzie Klein and Lacey Wedell.
“I was satisfied with the tie,” Olson said. “A win would have been good, but I have a lot of friends on (Stillwater), so it was a good way to show that we’re both really good.”
“I was frustrated because I knew we had worked really hard and were going for the win,” Peterson said. “I think the fact that our team routine beat their team routine says something about how strong we are as swimmers.”
“I think the tie gives us something to work for; it’ll make it a lot easier to push harder in the coming week before sections,” Klein said.
The Ponies picked up the top scores in solos, duets and trios, though the Rangers earned enough second- and third-place points to stave off defeat.
Senior Amanda Pothen placed second in solos. In duets, Olson and Peterson took second and Carr and Palmer finished third. Klein, Olson and Peterson finished second in trios.
“When you’re done swimming, you want to feel accomplished and feel like you did the best that you could do, and that’s how I felt (after the Stillwater meet),” Olson said.
“You can see the major improvement over where we were last year and where we are this year – we’re a lot farther ahead,” Wedell said.
The Rangers finished their regular season with a record of five wins, one tie and one loss. The Rangers defeated Columbia Heights and Osseo/Maple Grove twice each, once in a figure meet and once in routines. The Rangers also picked up a win over Grand Rapids. Their lone loss came in a figure meet against Stillwater.
The Rangers are now in preparations for the upcoming sectional tournament at Richfield on May 19-20.
“The synchro season is a roller coaster,” Davison said. “In March, we’re excited to be back together, and the routines are new. In April, we have to get our routines finished, and writing all of them is a lot of intense work in every practice. Now, once the show happens and we have all our routines down, we just spend our time making them the best that they can be.”
At sections, swimmers can compete in short, long or extended routines in the various categories. Those Rangers who place highly at sections will advance to the state championship at the University of Minnesota’s Freeman Aquatic Center on May 25-26.