CINCINNATI — For five decades, Ginny Jasontek has been training young swimmers at the Gamble Nippert YMCA in Westwood as founder of the YMCA Cincinnati Synchrogators.
Her team is one of Cincinnati’s best-kept sports secrets, producing hundreds of talented swimmers, college athletes and even an Olympian.
"Beyond the athletics is the artistry,” Jasontek said. “It's one of those very few sports where you get that combination of the two."
To celebrate 50 years and raise money to take the team to future competitions, the Synchrogators will perform two fundraiser shows this weekend. This year’s theme: Circus - Under the Big Top.
Caroline Walsh, who has been a Synchrogator for seven years, will perform solo on Saturday. She’s a senior student at Mt. Notre Dame, and she’s being recruited by Ohio State.
Walsh said she and the rest of the team have spent countless hours working on breath control, choreography and more to perfect their performances.
"We have around 15 hours of training each week, sometimes a little bit more,” Walsh said. “Everyone has to be synchronized, so we have to do things over and over again so we're perfectly together."
For Walsh, synchronized swimming is more than a sport; it’s a mode of self-expression.
"It's kind of like a personal story you tell but it's without words, you have to use a piece of music to tell a story and there's so many different ways to do that," she said.
And when competition time comes, Walsh says she and her squad are always up for the challenge.
"I really love the adrenaline that I get from actually swimming at meets and getting that score and swimming with my teammates," she said.
It’s a sport that’s open to all -- at the elite level, synchronized swimming now has “mixed duets” where a man and a woman can compete together. Jasontek encourages everyone to “give it a try.”
"We're very open to taking new swimmers — a girl who likes to dance, who likes to swim, who likes to do some gymnastics training — all of that put together is synchronized swimming," she said.
Saturday's performance starts at 7 p.m. at the Gamble Nippert YMCA, 3159 Montana Ave. Sunday's performance starts at 6:30 p.m. at the M.E. Lyons YMCA, 8108 Clough Pike.