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Press Release June 20, 2011 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lynn Camastral   
Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Meraquas of Irvine Synchronized Swim Team

Receives National Recognition



Irvine, CA -- The Meraquas of Irvine, Orange County’s only synchronized swimming team, qualified 12 routines for the eSychro Age Group Championships to be held June 24 to July 2, 2011.  The Meraquas also had 5 swimmers qualify for 2011 Age Group National Team trials, with one swimmer, Jeni Griffin, earning a spot on the team.


National Competition:  2011 eSynchro Age Group Championships


The Meraquas qualified a total of 12 routines for national competition in the 11-12, 13-15, and 16-17 age categories.  Each age bracket will swim a team routine.  In addition, the team will send 4 trios, 2 duets, and 3 solos.  This event--the world’s largest synchronized swimming competition--will draw over 1,000 athletes to the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Washington. 


Meraquas swimmers qualified these routines by placing first, second, or third in regional competition held in La Mirada on May 21st, 2011.  Regional competitions are held each season to determine which swimmers earn a chance to compete nationally.  Meraquas swimmers, beat out swimmers from Los Angeles, Riverside, Cerritos, La Mirada, and San Diego to achieve this honor.


The Meraquas competed at the Age Group Nationals in Tonawanda, New York in 2010, Gainesville, Florida in 2009, and Binghamton, New York in 2008.  The team has competed nationally for the last four consecutive years.


Routines by age category competing nationally 2011.


11-12 Team

13-15 Team

16-17 Team

2 Solo

1 Solo


1 Duet

1 Duet


1 Trio

1 Trio

2 Trio

1 Team

1 Team

1 Team




2011 National Team:  Jeni Griffin Earns a Spot


This season the Meraquas had a total of 5 swimmers qualify and compete in the 2011 Age Group National Team trials--an athlete development program that recognizes outstanding synchronized swimmers across the country.  Each athlete attended national-level training camps and competed against the nation’s best synchronized swimmers in their age categories.


Carol Tsai and Sara Cearns (both of Rancho Santa Margarita) competed in the 13-15 category and placed in the top 50.  In the 11-12 age group, Caitlin Camastral (of Irvine), Renee Gentry and Jeni Griffin (both of Foothill Ranch) competed in the 11-12 category.  Caitlin Camastral placed 35th, Renee Gentry placed 31st, and Jeni Griffin earned a place on the National Team (a team of 12) placing seventh overall.  Congratulations Jeni for making the National Team.  Congratulations to these five girls for representing the Meraquas and demonstrating excellence in this demanding sport.



The team is always looking for new swimmers between the age 7-13 years old.  To take classes, please join us at:


William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Complex

4601 Walnut Avenue, Irvine, CA   92604


Mondays and Fridays from 6-7 pm.


More info on our website




The spirit and strength of young women is evident at the Meraquas, where a unique, bright and determined group of young ladies excel in their sport.  There are currently 32 girls in the Meraquas of Irvine ranging in age from 7 to 17.  Older girls are paired with younger girls to mentor and support growth and development. 


This is not Esther William's Water Ballet--these girls practice from 9 to 15 hours per week, depending on their level of experience.  During the competitive season, practice times can increase to 20- 25 hours per week.  Practices, held at the William Woollett Aquatic center in Irvine, are all year round, in all weather conditions (lightening excepted). 


The Meraquas are adept at balancing their love of the sport with academic performance.  Many of these girls are honors students and many have received university scholarships.  They would not be synchronized swimmers without determination, commitment, and team support.  The Meraquas of Irvine is the only Synchronized Swimming Team in Orange County.  




Synchronized swimming made its debut in 1907.  It was an exhibition novelty until in became a competitive sport in the late 1930’s.  In 1984, it became an Olympic sport and it is now internationally respected and growing in popularity.


Synchronized swimming is a simultaneously graceful yet physically demanding sport.  These swimmers have the elegance of a ballet dancer, the strength and power of a water polo player, and the endurance of a long distance runner.  Synchronized swimmers showcase the skills and flexibility of gymnasts while performing in an unstable environment.


The most important piece of equipment for synchronized swimmers is the nose clip--a critical swimming aid that prevents water from entering the nasal cavity during upside-down movements.  A synchronized swimmer always carries an extra nose clip on her suit in case the one she is wearing gets knocked off during a routine.  For lack of a better product, dissolved unflavored gelatin is used to keep a synchronized swimmer’s hair in place while she is spinning upside down and moving throughout the pool.  It also gives a uniform appearance to all the swimmers.


The sequined suits the swimmers wear are meant to enhance the performance.  Make-up brings out the swimmer’s features, and the smile seen plastered on a swimmer’s face is meant to deceive the audience into believing that the performance is easy.


An underwater speaker lets the girls hear the music clearly, helping them achieve the spilt-second timing critical to synchronization.  A lift is done by raising the body of one or more swimmers up to or above the surface of the water.  Swimmers execute lifts with only their body strength and are not allowed to use the bottom of the pool--ever.  In a 5 minute routine, swimmers might spend up to a total of one minute underwater without air.  The effort can be compared to running without taking a breath for up to 30 seconds. 

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