Menomonee Falls High School’s baseball and boys’ basketball teams both went to the state this year. But the Menomonee Falls-based Dolphinettes, a subsidiary of Menomonee Falls’ recreational division, also made a big splash this season.
For the first time, girls in the 16-19 age group placed second in the free artistic swimming team competition, formerly called synchronized swimming, at the Junior Olympiads. The free team competition uses creative and artistic choreographies.
The competition took place from June 25th to July 2nd in Gainsville, Florida.
The team also placed third as Tech Team, the artistic swimming competition that relies on technical ability; Seventh in the free competition, another competition that relies on creative choreography; and 12th in a duet with the artistic swimmers Johanna Luo and Grace Xue.
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The Menomonee Falls Dolphinettes, who train in the Menomonee Falls North Middle School pool, have won the state competition for the last 35 years. There are only two other artistic swimming programs in Wisconsin, in Wauwatosa and Middleton.
More than “dancing in the water”
Linda Löhndorf, who has been training the Dolphinettes since 1980, calls artistic swimming a “combination of dance, gymnastics and swimming”.
“I want people to know that it’s more than what others give it credit for — dancing in the water,” said Mara Stockhausen, who is part of the Dolphinettes, lives in Brookfield and is a senior at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School is.
Löhndorf said the sport has become more athletic and difficult, with throws, lifts and choreography in the water. Many of the movements are performed underwater.
“It’s a challenge and it’s a team sport,” said Stockhausen. “It’s really great to see me grow as an athlete. It’s a team sport where we help each other.
“Very artistic and sporty”
Menomonee Falls’ Michelle Xie is a junior at Brookfield East High School. She said she was drawn to artistic swimming to capitalize on her ballet background.
She was able to use her ballet background to try another sport.
Artistic swimming seemed a perfect fit. She’s been doing this for six years.
“It’s very artistic and athletic, so it’s a challenge,” she said. “Some elements are strictly judged, others are artistic in nature.” “There is a lot of adrenaline in the performance. Time spent underwater (during a routine) is tough; They use a lot of energy.”
Johanna Luo, who will be a junior at Germantown High School in the fall, added that the most difficult aspects of the sport are being able to stand on your head, not being able to wear goggles and having to synchronize the count with others.
“You have to pretend everything is fine but you end up holding your breath underwater and you have to keep going and you’re even more out of breath and your muscles are so tired,” she said.
“It’s a cool sport,” said Luo. “I can feel everyone’s energy. Our teammates are such good friends.”
The creativity of the sport, paired with the increasing use of acrobatic movements, is also fun.
“I hate sweating, so I love swimming,” she said. “It’s super fun and super cool and open to everyone. It’s such a great sport so I hope it gets more exposure.”
More about the dolphins
The Menomonee Falls Dolphinettes began as a club activity at North High School (now Menomonee Falls High School) in the 1960s. It transitioned to a competitive team through USA Artistic Swimming in the 1980s, and eventually became a subsidiary of the Menomonee Falls Recreation Department.
Loehndorf said swimmers can visit the clinics and then join the team, where they’ll be divided into groups based on age and ability. The recreational class does not compete but may perform at their annual spring presentation.
Competitive artistic swimming begins in the fall and lasts through June. Visit Menomonee Falls Dolphinettes on Facebook for more information.
Cathy Kozlowicz can be reached at 262-361-9132 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @kozlowicz_cathy.