Calire Carver-Dias representing Canada in 2002.
Bollywood is coming to Melbourne - when India's Avani Dave performs her Synchronised Swimming routine to the Hindi song Badi Mushkil.
The rhythmic routine in the solo event will showcase the 14 year old swimmer from Mumbai. With Delhi hosting the next Games, the Indian team is looking to give spectators a taste of 2010.
Avani Dave’s Canadian coach, Leslie Sproule, believes the performance will be the start of greater things.
Dave’s ability to overcome obstacles was demonstrated when she and her team mates had to prepare for the Games in an outdoor swimming pool which lacked the essential underwater music system. To rectify these difficulties, Sproule kept the beat by hitting a spoon on the steel pool railings.
“I selected two pieces (for the routine) and they were re-recorded in the studio...because I wanted characteristic Indian music for Avani’s two minute event,” said the 48 year old instructor.
The teenager will be judged for flexibility, strength, aerobic positions and sculling technique. Prateeksha Lakhani, a classical dancer, was asked to help co-ordinate the hand movements in the water, while Dave has stuck to the ballerina’s pointed toes for the head-down routines.
“India is a recent starter, but the idea is to use this edition as a springboard for the sport, which will feature in Delhi in four years’ time,” says Sproule.
Also competing in the pool for India will be Shikha Tandon, Rehan Ponacha, Punit Rane, Arjun Muralidharan, Virendra Devalkar Kode, Mandar Divas and Rohit Havaldar.
“Our swimmers are in good spirit, they performed very well in the camp and there is no injury worry, but it all depends how they perform on the day of event,” team coach Pradip Kumar said.
While Dave is new to the sport, she will be competing against the best in the discipline. There will be tough competition from Canadian, British and Australian performers who will be aiming for a place on the podium after, for many of them, more than ten years of training.
The English Synchronised Swimming team have been preparing at Monash University in Melbourne, under the guidance of National Performance Director Adele Carlsen, a Commonwealth medallist herself in 1998. The team will include Jenna Randall in the solo event and in the duet with Olivia Allison. Lauren Smith has been selected as duet reserve.
For the Canadian team, Marie-Pier Boudreau-Gagnon and Isabelle Rampling have been ramping up their training in Montréal which will be the first ever Commonwealth Games for the young swimmers.
“Although this is the first event that Marie-Pier and Isabelle will swim together as a duet, I believe that they will do great things for Canada,” said coach Julie Sauvé. “The Commonwealth Games will be a great opportunity for the Synchro team to win some medals.”
Since 1986, Canada has consistently taken gold at past Commonwealth Games.
The Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Synchronised Swimming competition will be held 18-19 March at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.