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Out to Swim showing 'synchronised swimming is open to everyone'

2019 is a year of celebration for the synchronised swimmers at Out to Swim.

The club was formed in 1994 by swimmers from the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,Trans) community, but it was 10 years ago when a group of its members were inspired to introduce synchronised swimming to the London branch of the club.

At a swimming competition in Barcelona, the group was inspired by a performance of the Spanish Olympic team’s famous ‘Stairway to Heaven’ routine.

They returned to London and built the foundations of a synchro club which is stronger than ever a decade later.

Out to Swim celebrated the milestone year with its greatest triumph yet.

Samuel Weinberg and Tal Link won gold in the 25-29 Years Mixed Duet at the FINA World Masters Championships in Gwangju.

Having started with a predominantly male team, the club’s landscape has changed over the last 10 years.

Chair, Stephen Adshead, said: “Now our club is more mixed. A lot of people who come to us are beginners.

“When we started, they were absolute beginners, no one knew what they were doing.

“It’s so different now. We were once seen as a novelty, now people are used to us.

“We’re a growing club and we continue to attract both male and female swimmers. It’s a nice relaxed environment.”

Synchro for all

In their third consecutive year competing together at the Swim England Synchro National Masters Championships, Sai Li and Marion Menjoz won the 2019 Mixed Duet title for Out to Swim.

The pair were beaming after collecting their gold medal and Marion says Out to Swim has helped to rediscover her love for the sport after a 10 year break.

“I wanted to join Out to Swim because it’s a very open-minded club,” she said.

“It’s a club where you can just come as you are. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t done it for 10 years and you don’t remember anything, they say ‘just come, we’ll see how you are, see what you can do and we’ll train you’.

“Everyone is really open and it’s very welcoming. People want to have fun on top of competing, so it’s a good balance.”

Sai added: “That’s the reason I’m still here – because it’s such an open and inviting club.

“Whatever your background, they don’t care. They just think that you are one part of the team – we’re all together in this. It’s like a big family.”

Swimming with men

Sai was one of five men to compete at the Synchro Masters Nationals in Crawley.

Nigel Sayers helped Brighton Dolphin win Combination Team gold in the 40-64 age group, while Sai’s team-mates John Kelly and Mark Hollis featured in the 25-39 age group.

As the push grows to include the Mixed Duet in the Olympic programme for Paris 2024, the Out to Swim athlete insists synchronised swimming is a sport of opportunity for all.

“The more men come along, the more we do the mixed duet, the more exposure we get,” he said.

“Synchro is open to everyone, that’s my message.”