UBC Artistic Swimming Club is getting in sync with Shrek – Ubyssey Online

UBC’s Artistic Swimming Club has been making national headlines in the world of artistic swimming for years now as a club with skill, heart and promise. With one of their three teams earning first place at Nationals for the past two years in a row, and another one placing sixth last year, these athletes are ready for the year ahead.
Megan Rutherford is entering her second season with high hopes for even better success at Nationals this coming spring. The teams compete in the Canadian University Artistic Swimming League, along with 14 other universities.
“I love competing in this league because it’s a little bit more emphasized on ‘we’re here to actually have fun,’” Rutherford said. “I really feel like our final performance [at Nationals] was something to be really proud of despite the adversity getting there.”
At last year’s Nationals, the gold team was down two players in a last minute turn of events, which led to an automatic reduction in their overall score. Despite this unexpected challenge, the team persevered, reworked their choreography and placed sixth.
“I had never been to Toronto before, I had actually never been out of BC, so it was a super cool experience to be able to go that far with my teammates,” said Elisa Delle Monache, another team athlete. “The amount of time that we put into it and how well we performed and competed, I’m definitely going to remember that.”
Both Rutherford and Delle Monache’s favorite part of artistic swimming is the creative aspect, particularly the choreography and music integration. Each year, the club’s coaches select the theme for their team, which motivates song selection, choreography and swimsuit design. This season, the gold team’s coach Angie Rossi selected the movie Shrek as their theme.
The routine is choreographed to a mashup of four songs from the Shrek soundtrack: “Do You Know the Muffin Man?” “All Star,” “Livin’ la Vida Loca” and “Bad Reputation.”
“[Rossi] cut the music in such a fun, almost jokes-meme way, that I think we are all really enjoying choreographing this routine and swimming to it this year,” Rutherford said.
“Another really fun and creative aspect that comes with the theme of the routine is the suits that we get to wear,” Delle Monache said. This year, their suits will be similar to Fiona’s green dress from the movie.
This year, the club also faces a whole new judging system, which prioritizes difficulty scores over artistic performance and choreography. Historically, teams’ overall scores were calculated out of 20 points in each of the three categories: artistic score, execution score and difficulty score. The difficulty score is now a multiplier as opposed to a score out of 20 points.
“It is going to make routines look probably very different,” Delle Monache weighed in. “But, I am excited to see overall how the sport changes, how it evolves and what teams can create now with this different set of rules.”
With this new change in scoring, teams are incentivized to incorporate more difficult movements into their 3.5 minute routine.
“With any judged sport it can be frustrating when you don’t see your effort be reflected in your marks, so any attempt to try and make the scores more objective I don’t think, at its core, is a bad idea,” Rutherford said.
While the gold team’s athletes are determined to perfect more challenging moves and are embracing the new judging system, Rossi also acknowledges its challenges.
“Almost all of the difficulty is aimed towards acrobatics, which [includes] the highlights or the hybrids, which is when they’re underwater,” Rossi said. “So there’s a lot less breathing this year.”
Although this routine is packed with advanced and challenging movements, Rossi believes in her team and is excited for what they have in store as they gear up for Nationals. The club will be showcasing the team’s Shrek routine, along with routines from their two other teams, at their Winter Watershow on December 2 at 7:00 p.m. at UBC’s Aquatic Centre.
The club encourages anyone interested in this unique sport to attend try-outs each fall, regardless of experience in artistic swimming or commitment.
“My thing that keeps me in artistic swimming, as opposed to other sports that I did when I was younger, is that there is that combination between really intense athleticism and the creative performance nature of it,” said Rutherford.