Since 1948 there have been competitions at the university level in synchronized swimming. The first four universities competing were McGill, Western, U of Toronto and Queen’s and amazingly 68 years later swimmers from these same universities are still competing.
University level meets predated the development of the club system which is so prevalent today in synchro competitions for younger swimmers from ages 7 years until about 17 years.
In May 2001 university synchro competitions faced a crisis. Because McMaster had cancelled their varsity synchro, the OUA had only 5 universities left in the sport and the OUA would only run a varsity program with a minimum of 6 universities participating. Two additional groups of swimmers had asked for varsity status at their individual universities but had been turned down. At their OUA meeting in May 2001, the OUA voted to cancel OUA sanctioned varsity synchro competitions. ( The final OUA sanctioned meet was held at Queen’s University on Feb 11, 2001)
But the university synchro swimmers didn’t want to stop competing. The one positive note was that four university teams still had either “university club” status or some support from their universities. (These included McGill, Queen’s, Guelph and U of Toronto) There were also several university synchro groups that wanted to compete even if they had to be self funded. Included in this group were groups of swimmers from Brock University and University of Western Ontario.
Through a series of conference calls held in Sept and Oct 2001 with reps from all the interested university teams, it was decided to set up our own university league and set up our own meets. It was from a suggestion by Kristina Buchmann from McGill that we would get more recognition if we had our own league.The league – “Canadian University Synchro Swim League/ Ligue Universitaire de Nage Synchronisée was officially incorporated on Jan 2, 2002 and for the 2001-2002 year the teams competed in two meets – one at Keuka College in New York State and one at Queen’s University. In the 2002-2003 year , the universities have competed at three meets, one at McGill University in Nov 2002 and one at Keuka College (called the Canadian Invitational) in Jan 2003. The final championship meet was held at the Brock University pool followed by an awards banquet at Mountainview United Church, St Catharines on Feb 8, 2003 attended by 120 swimmers, coaches, parents and synchro supporters.
UPDATE IN 2016
The last year of the OUA competitions there were 54 synchro swimmers from 5 universities. Our league has grown to 16 universities and hopes to grow even more. We hope to welcome Laurentian University, Lakehead and Sherbrooke University to our league for the 2016-2017 meet year which would bring us to 19 participating universities.