Raquel 

Raquel has been a synchronized swimmer since 2009. She currently swims for Bay Area Synchro and formerly the Santa Clara Aquamaids. She is the 1st USA Int'l Champion for Synchro AWD and is a Coach for Bay Area Synchro's adapted Synchro program. Raquel was born with a birth injury which resulted in a disability called Erbs Palsy. She also struggles with ADHD. Raquel used aquatics therapy for healing and found out later at age 9 that synchronized swimming was much more beneficial and in fact helped her regain much needed mobility that she did not have before, despite having surgery at age 6. But because of her limited abilities, trying to advance in a sport where much of her co-swimmers now serve on National teams was not a possibility, given her disability, which restricts her ability to keep up with the non disabled synchronized swimmers. Despite her 48+ Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals for Synchronized Swimming at the Intermediate level, she would not be able to meet the criteria set for Age group, Junior or Senior trials for a National team spot.

 

At age 13, instead of dropping out of the sport, she decided that it was time to advocate for Synchro as a Paralympic sport by spreading awareness and asking for help from the

USA Synchro Swim Federation. She started with spreading awareness at the California State Games (CSG), becoming a Synchro Ambassador for 5yrs. In addition, she was chosen as a 2010 CSG Torch Bearer (from 9,000 applicants) and the 1st to represent Synchronized Swimming. She was recognized by CSG during the 2010 Opening ceremonies as an athlete with a disability. In 2013, She was chosen again as the State Games of America (SGA) Torch Bearer as the 1st Synchronized Swimmer to carry their torch for the National (45 States) Games in Pennsylvania. She was recognized as an Athlete with a disability along with another (SGA) disabled Athlete in the Karate games. Raquel was honored by accepting the Torch from the 2008 Olympic Heptathlon Silver Medalist, Hyleas Fountain.

 

After USA Synchro granted her permission to represent the USA in Canada, she competed in the 2014 Canadian Synchro Nationals in the AWD category, where she placed 1st for her solo and in the figures competition for age group in level 4. In 2015, she helped to co-found the Synchro AWD Organization after she realized the need for global advocacy, along with her mom and other swimmers parents from Canada. She became our first Synchro AWD Ambassador, representing athletes with disabilities all over the World in Synchronized Swimming. Raquel has since traveled to Taiwan (twice), Japan (3 times),Spain (twice), Brazil, Mexico (twice), Panama (twice) and Colombia, to help spread awareness and to participate in AWD Exhibitions. In Sept. 2016, Raquel traveled to Brazil for Paralympics week and swam in the Inspara Institute's Parasynchro Exhibition in the solo & duet combo events with a Brazilian Synchro swimmer-amputee to showcase Athletes with Physical Disabilities. Raquel also swam in a USA Coaches team combo category and also participated in the Int'l Paralympics ICSEMIS conference during the Olympics-Paralympics break.

‚Äč

She and other Artistic swim athletes & coaches attended the 2016 Paralympic Opening Ceremonies where she dreams she will be a participant for future Paralympic games. Raquel currently coaches for a new team she established in April 2016, which specifically trains athletes with disabilities, the first of it's kind in the United States. Raquel and other Artistic swim AWD coaches, along with AWD swimmers participates in exhibitions, demonstrations and disability events at least once a month to spread awareness. She is one of the youngest CCP1certified USA Synchronized Swimming Coaches and hopes to become an artistic swim Judge. Raquel volunteers her spare time with VIA Services where she works with youth and adults with various disabilities for camps & respite care. Raquel also volunteers with various community groups including military veterans appreciation. Raquel is looking forward to a long sports career and hopes to be one of the 1st athletes representing the USA in a future Paralympics for Artistic Swimming. Raquel loves to sing and dance and hopes one day she can become a Paralympic host commentator or work for the Paralympic Committee. She has career aspirations of working to help people and currently attends San Jose State University.