As It Happens

Dads of synchronized swimmers start Manitoba's only all-men's team

Christian Gosselin was apprehensive when he put out the call for an all men's synchronized swimming team — but he says the dads' performance is coming along swimmingly.

'It's a really very challenging sport,' says Christian Gosselin, who started it to support his daughters

These 11 dads and husbands make up Manitoba's only all-men synchronized swimming team. (Submitted by Holly Hjartarson )

Story transcript

Christian Gosselin was joking the first time he suggested that he and his buddies do a synchronized swimming routine to raise money for their daughters' club.

But the more he thought about it, the more it seemed like the perfect way to raise funds and awareness for the 10th anniversary of Winnipeg's Aquatica Synchro Club, while also encouraging more boys to pursue the female-dominated sport.

So he fired off an email in January to the other fathers and husbands of the club's athletes. 

Before he knew it, he had 11 men — nine dads and two husbands — forming Manitoba's only all-men's synchronized swimming team. 

"We've all got our different reasons. Some were ... willing to do what it takes to raise money for the club and to help the development of the athletes. Some was just out of interest. One was just to find out, you know, what their daughters do every day," Gosselin told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

"A combination of reasons, but ultimately all with one goal."

But that goal — to perform 1½ minutes of "something that's fairly synchronized" — is proving a lot harder than the dads anticipated.

Gosselin's two girls, Chloé, 9, and Calla, 12, might make it look easy. But holding your body upside down underwater and timing your every movement with 10 other men is a difficult feat. 

"It's a really very challenging sport," Gosselin said. "I guess that the best comparison I've heard is that it's like running 400 metres while holding your breath."

One of the coaches instructs 11 fathers and husbands of Aquatica Synchro Club athletes in the ways of synchronized swimming. (Submitted by Holly Hjartarson )

But the men have help.

"It's been really fun, and a big learning curve," Aquatica head coach Holly Hjartarson, who has been training the team, told the Winnipeg Free Press, which first reported the story.

"It's much different coaching adult men than it is coaching kids."

'This is not easy'

Video footage from their practice shows the men have mostly got the moves down — though their timing leaves something to be desired. 

"All these imperfections show to what extent this is not easy. It's a combination of strength or artistic merit. And it's something you have to work at," he said.

"We're only practising, you know, an hour and a half a week. And our kids are doing three, four, five, six times a week. And now we know why."

The kids, he said, are simultaneously their biggest fans and their harshest critics. 

"They're getting a good laugh once in a while when we're not quite on time or somebody is spitting water," he said. "I think they're enjoying it a lot."

But the men's team is getting better all the time, Gosselin says.

"From the feedback we've gotten for just people working here on the pool or just the moms watching, they seem to all agree that it's already 100 per cent improvement," he said. 

They'll have their public debut at the Pan Am Pool in Winnipeg on May 25 to mark Aquatica's 10-year anniversary.

Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview with Christian Gosselin produced by Sarah Jackson.


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