By Christopher Tobutt
Cayman’s Artistic Swimmers got to show off their skills on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 May at the Camana bay Sports Complex Pool. It was very special, because it was really a mixture of two important events in one: the Caymanite Invitational, which invited all Cayman’s artistic swimmers, from five years old to take part. But it doubled as a CARIFTA virtual competition. Cayman was chosen to host the CARIFTA artistic swimming this year, but because of Covid, it had to be a specially-filmed competition. Instead of having a completely separate event, it made a lot of sense to film the CARIFTA swimmers during the Caymanite swim-meet, and have their films sent off to the CARIFTA judges.
It was great news, because recently swimmers had to cancel the 2020 and 2021 travel meets which meant missing a number of great competition opportunities including the 2020 and 2021 WorldWide Invitational (Miami), CARIFTA 2020 in Barbados, CCCAN 2020 in Cuba, and the UANA 2021 in Aruba.
Artistic swimming routines are really athletic movements performed in water and choreographed to music. Despite the apparent ease and gracefulness of the movements, it is actually a very hard and strenuous sport, requiring a very high level of skill, and strength and control. Artistic swimmers also need to develop a great sense of rhythm to be able properly synchronize to the music, and flair to interpret it’s emotions, as they listen through underwater speakers.
Saturday was for the solo, duet and team routines to music. The solos came first, with each of the performances being awarded points by the local judges according to various criteria, such as execution, artistic merit, and level of difficulty. First came the soloists, and then came the duets, two swimmers, perfectly synchronized. Finally the teams came. Some of the children were as little as five years old, but they did very well in front of the judges. The older ones managed spectacular feats, such as throwing one another into the air, where they made beautiful, ballerina-like twists and geometric shapes. The teams are subdivided into Novice, (beginners) Intermediate and age-category groups. “Teams can be anywhere from four to eight swimmers,” said Assistant Coach Romina Giraldo.
Sunday was more serious, with the ‘figures,’ where each swimmer carefully executes each form in front of the judges, without any music. Coach Alissa Moberg who helped get synchro and artistic swimming going in Cayman a few years ago, and is herself an accomplished synchro swimmer, was in charge of coordinating the event and filming each of the CARIFTA entries on her phone, ready for submission to the CARIFTA judges. “This is the third time that we’ve posted a competition on the island, and I think it was one of our most successful. We’ve been very successful in creating the sport on the island from the ground up,” she said.