Two AWD Synchro Swimmers heading for the California State Games on July 18th.
The California State Games (CSG) will be celebrating 26 years of successful championships amongst some of the best athletes from California and Nevada. The CSG is held in San Diego every July for the Summer games which includes synchronized swimming. In 2011, the CSG hosted the State Games of America National Championships in San Diego, which circulates the United States every 2 years. The State Games are a grass roots event for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). They recognize amatuer and beginner athletes who have medaled in their respective sports during the season. The goal for USOC is to encourage sportsmanship, health and inspiration for the Olympic games.
For the past 5 years, Raquel Boales, one of our many Athletes with disabilities (AWD) Ambassadors and a Santa Clara Aquamaid has been participating the in CSG for synchronized swimming. Although there are no seperate categories for athletes with disabilities at the State Games Championships in any of the sports, she has excelled in her age group for synchro, always placing in the top 5 for her solo routines and grabbing the 2011 Championship title with a Gold medal performance. Raquel has participated in two State Games of America (SGA) National Events and has won a Gold medal in 2011 and a Bronze medal in 2013. From 2010 to 2014, She also participated in her team events, winning Gold every time and a duet event, winning Silver. In 2010, she was selected amongst 9,000 entrants to be one of the 5 torch bearers for the opening ceremonies. She was the first synchronized swimmer in the CSG history to hold this honor. In 2013, she was selected again for the State Games of America (SGA) in Pennyslyvania Nationals as a torch bearer and again became the first synchronized swimmer to carry the torch for a SGA opening ceremony. What makes Raquel Boales so special?
In our interview with Raquel, she told us that she was born with a brachial plexus injury which turned into Erbs Palsy, a lifelong disability affecting her left side (shoulder/arm) down to her knee. Even after a remarkable surgery at the age of 5, she still struggles with mobility issues but stives to be the best at what she can do and not look back or feel sorry for herself. Raquel says that she always encourages the disabled and even non disabled athletes to always do better for themselves because there is always someone less fortunate. Raquel assured us that anyone could be 'less fortunate' but for her, she strives to go beyond what is expected of her. We asked Raquel why was it important to help start an advocacy group to promote athletes with disabilities? she said because almost every athlete has a dream. Some dream of the Olympic games and others dream of the Paralympic Games. She wants to help athletes with disabilities with their dream of the Paralympic Games, where they can excel as elite athletes. Raquel said her experience with the CSG in her 6th year this week has given her strength, hope and determination. She would like to see more athletes with disabilities in the CSG synchro competition and perhaps one day, there will be so many participants, that a seperate category would be recognized for AWD just like how Canada does it. Raquel competed in the Canadian Nationals last June 2014 and brought home a Gold medal for the USA in the solo athletes with disabilities category. Raquel said she was very pleased with how well organized the Canadians were with their efforts to include AWD synchro swimmers.
As far as CSG for the future, she hopes to continue
to advocate for athletes to participate in the many sports it hosts. She would like to return next year as a synchro coach for the younger swimmers participating. Raquel also added that she will have more time to focus on her speed swimming. Currently she swims for PASA at Stanford as a member of the US Paralympic Emerging Athlete Program.
This year, Raquel will have 'company' at this Summer's CSG synchro competition. She has encouraged new swimmer, Corinne Harris ( photo-left) from Monterey to join her in competition. Corinne Harris started last August with the Cypress Swim Club in Monterey. Corinne has Autism, but quickly rose to being a proficient synchronized swimmer by the season's start, winning a Silver and Bronze medal in the Novice/Intermediate category. Corinne was invited to Taiwan to participate and swim in their 1st Taiwan-AWD Open/Exhibition this past June. She was not only remarkable, but also caught the attention of several VIPs and politicians who recognized these two fantastic swimmers from the United States. They represented very well and have been invited to tour the World to encourage other Countries to step up and provide synchronized swimming opportunities for athletes with disabilities on an international level. Their next stop will be Spain in December.
We wish both swimmers, Raquel and Corinne from California the best in their competition on July 18th. If you are interested in watching/cheering on Raquel and Corinne, the Solo program starts first at 8:45am (Novice/Age group/Masters). Both Swimmers are expected to be swimming their routines between 8:45am and 9:15am, followed by a full day program of Duets, Trios and Teams from all over California and concluding at 4pm with an awards ceremony. It may end sooner, depending on how many swimmers participate. For information about other sports/schedule, please visit: www.calstategames.org.
The Synchro championships will take place at the Allied Gardens Community Pool, 6707 Glenroy St, San Diego, CA.