a group of young women standing next to each other
Team Synchro Sirens with Coach Isla Crawford at the Sunshine State Games in Ocala. ISLA CRAWFORD/Contributed

Upper Keys’ youth swimmers in the Synchro Sirens will take their talent to the national level at the Junior Olympics on Friday, July 5, capping off nearly a year of hard work and effort by the determined swim team. 

An all-girls synchronized swimming team, the Sirens qualified at the state regional level in May. The five-person team will be competing in the July 5 competition in Portland, Oregon, within the 16-17 age bracket on the basis of their oldest swimmer, although most swimmers are several years younger. 

Together, the five swimmers will perform a superhero-themed technical routine, with swimmers Isabella Cedergren and Natalie Goodwin also competing in a duet routine. Their routine, which includes four laps in total and hybrid elements of upside-down movement, will be scored based on technical execution.

The team has intensely trained since receiving their routine last fall, meeting four days a week to perfect their movements. Coach Isla Crawford, who was born and raised in the Florida Keys, began introducing this sport to local children during a summer camp in 2014. She started her first competitive team with only four swimmers in 2015.

“I really push them very hard in their training,” said Crawford. “In my experience, there’s usually some resistance or lack of desire. But these girls are very determined.”

The Sirens have a history of success and accomplishment, with two swimmers having qualified for a duet in the 2018 Junior Olympics. But this marks the first year that as many as five swimmers have gone on to the national level. 

Over the pandemic, the Sirens lost several of their top competitors, making it difficult for the team to surpass its previous accomplishments. Now, the team has been rebuilt, and is experiencing its most successful year yet. 

After breezing through regional competitions, the team looks forward to a far greater challenge at the national level. 

“I’m a little nervous but I’m mostly excited to compete against different teams outside of Florida,” said team captain Natalie Goodwin. “We’ve been able to push ourselves more this year.”

Regardless of the results on July 5 , coach Crawford is immensely proud of her team and of the growth they’ve accomplished. 

“It’s been such a joy having this group together and we’ve finally perfected a team dynamic among all the swimmers,” Crawford said.

Zack Woltanski
Zack Woltanski is a Coral Shores grad and aspiring novelist. After three years of high school and a gap year in Germany, he will be studying at Brown University, with a potential major in english or philosophy.