Local swimmers to compete at nationals

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Members of a local synchronized swimming team, the Mad City Aqua Stars, will compete at the 2017 US Junior Olympic Championship in Riverside, California on July 5 and 6.

The team qualified for the meet by placing in the top three teams at the North Zone Region B Junior Olympics and Intermediate Championships held in Des Plaines, Illinois in May.

The Aqua Stars were founded in 1998, and are Dane County’s only competitive synchronized swimming team.  The team competes at the local, regional and national level, and trains at the Middleton-Cross Plains Area Indoor Pool. The coach is Middleton resident Jennylynde Packham, assisted by Xin Shi and Nell Williamson-Shaffer.

Shi was a new addition to the coaching staff this year.  She is a former member of the Chinese National Synchronized Swimming team, and spent many years competing at the International level. Among many honors, she won a silver medal at the 2009 World Aquatics Championships, two silver medals at the 2010 FINA Synchronized Swimming World Cup, and a gold medal at the 2010 Asian Games.

Ten athletes ranging in age from 13 to 18 will compete at Junior Olympics, including Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District students McKenzie Barrett, Erin Caldwell, Megan Caldwell, Eesha Dornala, Holly Essert, Lindsay Gilge, Emily Kushner, Rachel Reichard and Bella Ricke.  Swimmer Mathea Diedrich will also compete.

The MCAS synchronized swimming curriculum emphasizes the development of technical, physical and mental abilities, creative movement and being a cooperative team member. The team welcomes new members, and is offering an intro class this summer at the Walte rBauman Aquatic Center, in conjunction with the Middleton Recreation Division. Full details are available at the Aqua Stars website.