When one thinks of sports at the Gallagher Centre two things instantly spring to mind: Hockey and curling.
However there is another sport that takes place at the Gallagher Centre that gets little to no recognition, despite being equally, if not more difficult, than either of those two previously named sports.
So what is that sport? The answer: The athletic art known as synchronized swimming. A sport that, while relatively unknown, is extremely difficult to compete in, especially at a highly competitive level.
While Yorkton hockey teams of all ages were busy winning Provincial titles this year so was one synchronized swimming athlete.
Jessica Lewthwaite, a 16-year-old synchronized swimmer for the Yorkton Aquabatix Synchronized Swimming club, has been completely dominant in the pool.
Her dominance, however, has not just happened this year, where she has taken a plethora of first place titles (eight in total in Figures, Solo and Duet) but throughout the years with a total of 25 first place finishes in the figures, solo, duet and team events since 2010. But throughout the years Lewthwaite has become enamoured with one particular area of competition: Solo.
When most people think of synchronized swimming the first, and most of the time only, picture that comes to mind is the team event. A solo event, for the large majority, is completely unknown.
However Lewthwaite, a grade 10 student at the YRHS, has fallen in love with the solo side of the sport, despite seeing success in both the duet and team competitions as well. “I’ve done other routines like team and duet, but I like being by myself in the water,” offered Lewthwaite. “That way you control your wins and losses.
“Plus, I like doing solos. You get to synchronize with the music instead of each other which is fun.”
But while Lewthwaite, who has been competing successfully in the solo event since 2010, loves competing in solo now, she said that she was initially afraid to try it out. “I didn’t want to do a solo routine at first. I was so scared to do a solo at first but then I did it and I loved it,” mentioned the young swimmer, whose performances have drawn the attention from two of the top synchronized swimming clubs in the province (one each in Regina and Saskatoon).
In fact, both the Regina and Saskatoon clubs have tried to recruit Lewthwaite into their respective programs, however the Yorkton swimmer has opted to turn down both offers, saying, “I don’t really want to move until I graduate high school here.
“I think that’s what I want to do and then I’ll go to Regina and hopefully swim there.”
Before she goes to Regina, however, Lewthwaite will have two more full seasons of synchronized swimming in Yorkton, not including the end of this season, which, while Provincials are over, is not finished just yet.
No, instead Lewthwaite, due to her success, will be competing in the final event of the year in Winnipeg known as the Canadian Prairie Invitationals; where the best of the best in Saskatchewan and Manitoba gather to compete and an event that she has competed in just once before. “Last year was my first time competing (at the CPI),” mentioned Lewthwaite, continuing, “I got two bronze, one in team and one in duet, and fifth in figures but I’d like to improve on that.
“I’d really like to medal. That’s all you can hope for going into one of those big meets is to medal. If I could do that I’d be proud.”
Given her track record, however, medalling in whichever routines she competes in is definitely a great possibility.