By Ashley Elder, News Staff Writer
Students attended UNC Asheville’s first synchronized swimming class in the Student Recreation Center pool Wednesday evening.
Laura Istvan, informal recreation coordinator, and Roxy Snider, water safety instructor, led the class.
“Synchronized swimming is a great cardiovascular activity that blends the benefits of swimming and dance without as much impact on the joints,” Istvan said.
She said synchronized swimming is a great way of toning muscles, increasing breath control and increasing flexibility in a fun activity.
After swimming competitively for 12 years, Istvan said she was so burned out that she wanted to try something different when she went to college.
A co-worker encouraged her to try the synchronized swimming club at her school.
She said she became addicted almost immediately because it was challenging and fun, and the people were friendly.
Istvan went on to compete for three years in college, then coached a club team for two years, where she became a USA Synchro judge at club and collegiate meets.
“I loved every moment of it and would have competed for four years, but I graduated early,” she said.
For a brief period, Istvan said she did masters synchro in the District of Columbia, but injuries made her stop for a couple years.
Recently her health has improved, she said, allowing her to do a synchro workout every now and then.
“It’s still my favorite way of swimming,” she said. “Laps just don’t compare anymore for me. One participant came to our clinic because they wanted to learn more movements in the pool that would benefit their regular lap swimming.”
She said the participants were so varied in skill and age and they all did the movements wonderfully.
“Honestly, they surprised me by how quickly they picked up elements and how well they executed them,” Istvan said.
She said it was refreshing to teach those who wanted to learn and were visibly enjoying it.
Synchronized swimming was new to participant Jessica Wolfe, 24, a former lifeguard.
“It was the first time I’ve ever done anything like this,” Wolfe said.
It was very challenging, she said, and a little harder than she thought it would be.
Michelle Bettencourt, faculty member in the foreign language department, said she thought it was a great idea to offer a workshop at UNCA given Istvan’s background and experience.
“It was so fun to try something totally different,” Bettencourt said.
Bettencourt said she especially enjoyed the low pressure, fun and accepting atmosphere.
There was a diverse group of people in attendance.
“All were made to feel welcome,” she said. “We all had smiles on our faces the entire time.”