At the 2019 CUASL Nationals, Talia Cameron from the University of Ottawa was awarded the first Top All Round Novice Athlete Award, and Maria Gheta was awarded the first Top All Round Experienced Athlete Award. As role models for many novice and experienced swimmers just starting out in University, we interviewed Talia and Maria for International Women’s Day.
International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements and hardwork of women around the world, and how we can make a positive difference for women around the world; and Talia and Maria certainly do that through her achievements in sport. See below for our question and answer period with Talia.
Q: How long have you been swimming?
Talia: I have been doing synchro for almost two years – I started in 2017 [at the University of Ottawa].
Maria: I have been doing synchro since I was 8 years old, so 12 years!
Q: What got you into Synchronized Swimming?
Talia: My sister Amy has been doing synchro since she was little, so when I was looking for a team to join at uOttawa she encouraged me to try out for the Novice team. I’ve been hooked ever since!
Maria: I used to have swimming lessons at my neighbourhood pool and the local synchro club (Mississauga Synchro) had practices right after our lessons. My sister loved to watch them get ready in land and practice their routines. I was a pretty shy kid at the time and was scared of trying something so new and exotic. But after the first week of practice, I started to really enjoy playing in the water and seeing my teammates.
Q: What is your favourite part about Synchronized Swimming?
Talia: The absolute best part about synchro are the friendships you make with your teammates, but I also love that it gives me an opportunity to push myself and to see what I am capable of.
Maria: I have two favorite parts about the sport. The first is making up choreography. This is probably the most creative part of the sport; coming up with innovative and impressive movements that go to the music. I also love competition swims. I love making eye contact with the judges and getting their attention. I love putting on a show, really showing the performance side of the sport. And one of the greatest parts is hearing my teammates cheering me on!
Q: How does synchro help/encourage you in other areas of your life?
Talia: Doing synchro has given me so much more confidence in all areas of my life—because I can achieve my goals in the pool, I feel capable of achieving any other goals I set for myself.
Maria: This sport has helped me develop great organisation skills as well as discipline. As soon as I became more competitive, my school grades shot up, even though I technically had less time for schoolwork. Synchro has also help me build up my confidence immensely, especially through solo routines. And lastly, synchro has helped me make so many lifelong friends.
Q: How do you feel the community of women you surround yourself with thanks to synchro has impacted your life?
Talia: Like I said, the friendships I have made through synchro are my favourite part of the sport! My synchro friends are the most supportive, hard-working, and inspirational people I could ever hope to have—knowing that they always have my back is an amazing feeling. The whole Gee-Gees Synchro community is always so supportive; I also owe so much to my coaches, who have always believed in me and pushed me to be my best. To have such an amazing group of women around me is incredibly empowering!
Maria: The pool deck has always been a safe place for me. Whenever I have school trouble, or just a bad day, my teammates are always so supportive, positive and motivating.
Q: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Talia: To me, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to appreciate the incredible strength and achievements of the women in my life. Being a woman is an incredibly important part of my identity, and I love getting the opportunity to celebrate that part of myself and to feel connected with other women.
Maria: International women’s day is an important day to appreciate the women that have been fighting for gender equality and support their cause. I also believe that on this day we recognize women’s accomplishments and celebrate womanhood.
Sport can do so much for women around the world; and it does not matter what age you start at. Talia Cameron is a great example of the profound impact surrounding yourself with other strong women in sport can do at any age, and Maria Gheta shows the impact and importance sport has on women around the world. Happy International Women’s Day!