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13-year-old Emily Drew heads to Florida for synchronized swimming championship

Emily Drew of Bothell will be competing at the Esynchro Age Group Nationals in Gainesville, Fla., for the next week. She took four first-place awards at the recent Region A Championships. KRISTINA ADAD, Courtesy photo -
Emily Drew of Bothell will be competing at the Esynchro Age Group Nationals in Gainesville, Fla., for the next week. She took four first-place awards at the recent Region A Championships. KRISTINA ADAD, Courtesy photo
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Champion synchronized swimmer Emily Drew may spend tons of time in the water, but she’s got her hands full on the outside, as well.

With a hearty laugh, the 13-year-old Bothell resident notes that she owns two dogs, a cat, two guinea pigs, a sea tortoise, a box turtle, a couple geckos, a bird, two ferrets, a hamster, a rabbit ... and she didn’t stop there. However, Drew will have to put her endless supply of pets on hold for the next week or so as she travels to Gainesville, Fla., for the Esynchro Age Group Nationals.

There, the age-group 13-15 athlete will compete in the figures, solo, duet and team events. Drew finished first in all four events at the recent Regional A Championships in Tualitan Hills, Ore. She partnered with Lorraine Hack of Olympia in duet, and her eight-member team featured Paige Almond of Kenmore.

“We’re all best friends, we trust each other,” Drew said of her team. “When you do a routine with the team, you do things for them. If they’re doing their best, you don’t want to bring them down.

“If somebody messes up, it makes you want to do better. We all fix it.”

Drew, a former dancer, got her first taste of synchro while attending swim lessons six years ago. The synchro coach on hand enjoyed Drew’s swimming style and asked her to try out.

“Usually, no one under the age of 10 is asked to do synchro — and she was 6. It was flattering. It was a challenge,” said mom Stephanie.

Added Emily: “It’s swimming, dancing, gymnastics ... and holding your breath. You have to pretend that it’s easy.

“Your legs go numb and cramp up, but you have to try not to think about that and keep going. I did swim team, we did 500 (meter) sprint freestyle races — that’s nothing compared to this.”

It was also tough commuting to synchro practice at St. Edward State Park in Kenmore from the Drews’ home in Poulsbo. They made the trek for four years to practice with the Seattle Synchronized Swim Team, but moved to Bothell two years ago to be closer to the action.

Drew has rocketed to success with several titles, including age-group 11-12 national champ in figures, an event where swimmers display a host of synchro elements to judges.

Figures is where Drew will start at this year’s nationals. A member of the Talent ID pool for the age 13-15 National Team trials, she can advance to phase two of the competition at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., with a good finish. Next up would be attending a camp with the Mexican National Team.

Drew, who was a Talent IDer at nationals last year, will also have to maintain her energy and positive outlook in her three other events in Florida. She said taking things one day at a time is her motto — so the solo, duet and team portions of nationals will all get equal attention.

“Just stay focused and do what you have to when you’re there, and then go back to the hotel and relax,” she said. “Do your best and make all the corrections.”

She doesn’t get nervous while in the spotlight and in front of the judges because she’s too busy.

“I’m so tired, I’m just trying to think about getting through the routine,” she said with a sigh. “Afterward — I get excited.”

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