Chuck Kuepfer, Staff Reporter
The Waterloo Regional Synchronized Swimming Club, which trains out of the old Elmira swimming pool, has added two-time Olympian Jin Na to its coaching staff.
Na, who has 23 years of experience in synchronized swimming as both an athlete and coach, was once one of China’s top swimmers. She competed for China at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta (1996) and Sydney (2000), along with world championships in England, Korea and Germany.
Na is excited to work with the next generation of synchronized swimmers as young as five years of age at the local club.
“I want to improve their skills, synchronization and choreography,” said Na, whose English is limited but improving.
Leanne McDonnell said the club is excited to have Na join the coaching staff as part of a three-year plan to improve its performance at nationals.
“She has world experience,” said McDonnell. “The nice thing is she wants to have a hand in even training the young ones. A lot of coaches with her experience wouldn’t do that.”
Na was recruited through Ying Li Hou, national coach at Granite Synchro of Toronto. The two women were duet partners at the Sydney Olympics.
Along with her Olympic experience, Na brings a wealth of coaching experience.
For the past 10 years, she was head coach of the China’s National Youth Team, guiding the squad to a fourth place finish at the World Championships.
McDonnell hopes Na’s experience will give the club the extra push it needs.
The Waterloo Regional Synchro has consistently ranked as a top club in the province during its 20-year history, and has recently emerged as a contender at nationals.
Last year’s senior team won two titles at the Canadian Open National Synchronized Swimming Championships in Victoria, B.C.
“We’ve always been one the top teams at provincials,” said McDonnell. “Now we want to add that national component.”
Na, who is currently leading a Summer Skills and Drills program at the local pool, is impressed with the club’s training facility.
“It’s very quiet because it’s only for synchronized swimming,” she says.
Waterloo Regional Synchro took over the Elmira pool last September and since then has become the envy of other clubs.
“Everyone fights for pool time,” said McDonnell. “Having this pool is a huge advantage. It’s attracting coaches.”
The club is offering a free Try Synchro Camp, August 13-17.
Registration for fall programs will be held Sept. 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the club’s Ernst Street home.