FEATURED TOPIC: The Town of Tonawanda Aquettes
When the call went out for volunteers for Our Town: Kenmore/Tonawanda John Migliore answered because he wanted to put the spotlight on the Tonawanda Aquettes. “I think it’s a hidden jewel of the town,” John remarked.
The Aquettes are an elite synchronized swim team founded 46 years ago by Dorothy Sowers. They are one of America’s premier teams, consistently placing in the top ten at Nationals.
“My daughter Cassie came home from swimming one day and said, ‘Dad I want to try the dancing in the water thing’. I went to the Tonawanda Aquatic Center and asked the coach about the program. It sounded good, so she tried out and made the team. The rest is history,” John recalled.
Sport Illustrated has dubbed synchronized swimming the most difficult sport in the world. It’s a combination of swimming, dancing, gymnastics, and aerobics done underwater, mostly upside down. “The girls do it and they make it look effortless with a smile,” John notes.
“They compete in Solo, Duet, Trios, Teams and my personal favorite, the Combo Event—A team of 10 girls, who break out into smaller groups throughout the routine. You’ve got to see it to believe it!”
It’s a true team sport. They rely on each other for lifts and throws while staying synchronized with each other and the music. The team, including the novice program involves 56 girls ranging in age from 6-18. They practice three hours a day, six days a week ten months out of the year.
The parents become the team’s support above the water—raising money for operation and travel, chaperoning and leading the cheers during competition. John also volunteers his time as the team’s photographer and web master.
How good are they? They have 17 National Age Group Gold Medals, 10 Junior National Gold Medals, 15 National Junior Olympic Gold Medals, 795 East Zone Titles, 125 Empire State Gold Medals, 3 International Titles, well over 1600 Niagara Association Gold Medals. So far . . . as a matter of fact the day we interviewed John for Our Town the team was en route to the Nationals in Oxford, Ohio.
“I never imagined it would do for my daughter what it has,” John remarked. “They really work hard. They learn about teamwork, how to win and lose with dignity. They perfect their time management skills balancing school, friends, activities and practice. And they make friends for life.”
The Tonawanda Aquettes is just one part of Our Town: Kenmore/Tonawanda.