Winnipeg ‘Synchro Dads’ turning heads

News source from CTV News

A synchronized swimming team from Winnipeg is getting international attention.

It’s not because they’re the best athletes in the world, but if you ask their daughters, they may be the best dads in the world.

Earlier this year, 11 men decided to get together and form a men’s team.

“I was kind of joking with one of my friends, kind of doing a routine and I told my wife the next day and we had a good laugh about it,” said Christian Gosselin, whose daughter is a synchronized swimmer.

He said the idea checked a lot of boxes.

“It’s the 10 year anniversary of (my daughter’s) club. We wanted to promote the sport to young boys, support our daughters, maybe do a fundraiser at the same time and it was hard not to do this at that point,” he said. 

Their daughters loved the idea.

Calla Gosselin, 12, said, “I was really excited.”

“It’s really funny,” Goesslin’s 10-year-old teammate Jasmine Peloqun added,

After the first weekly practice, the dads quickly realized synchronized swimming isn’t easy.

“Being underwater upside down, you really get disoriented and you don’t know whether you’re coming or going or where you’re turned,” said Rick Debruyn.

The experience reinforced just how talented their daughters are. 

“Absolutely, my respect for her and the people who do this sport is unbelievable,” said Russell Antymis. 

It’s been an experience for head coach Holly Hjartarson, too. The men can can touch the bottom of the pool, which normally isn’t allowed.

“They’re taller, which is the first challenge I came across,” Hjartarson said.

Hjartarson said an exception can be made since routine is just for fun.

The daughters picked up on an area in need of improvement for the dads. 

“Well, some of them, they’re not the best at toe point,” said Natalie Chubaty, 12. 

Toes pointed or not, the team is turning heads.

Synchro Canada now wants to feature the fathers at an upcoming international competition, so the group will be doing a satellite performance.

For one of the dads, Brian Honey, taking part is a chance to fill a gap, as both his grandmother and mother did synchronized swimming. 

“And then my daughter took it on, but now that I am participating we can say that it didn’t skip a generation, and so it’s fun,” he said.

But the fathers said the most important thing about diving in was the impact on relationships with kids. 

“It just helps us form a greater bond with our daughters,” Debruyn said. 

“There are times where I am in the pool at the same time she’s participating,” added Antymis.

The dads are now able to takea greater interest in their daughters’ involvement in the sport.

“He (dad) takes videos of me doing figures and once I did the wrong thing and he noticed it so then he told me about it,” Chubaty said.

The Synchro Dads’ performance is May 25th at the Pan Am Pool. The show starts at 1:30 p.m. and admission is free.  

– With files from CTV’s Michelle Gerwing

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