Everyone knows mermaids are just creatures of myth, but Haruka Kawazoe is as close to a real-life mermaid as it gets.
The 14-year-old student at South Island School is a synchronised swimming sensation. This technical and challenging sport requires grace, composure and extreme athleticism – all while submerged underwater.
“We train a lot, almost six times a week,” says Haruka. “Sometimes we intensify the training by using sandbags, which adds weight to your body.”
Haruka has been competing in synchronised swimming events for five years, and was ready for the challenge. “Because I was taking gymnastics and swimming classes, I have an advantage,” she explains.
Having absolute control over your body while in the water is already a challenge in itself, but the pressure is amplified during competitions. “In every competition, our coaches always tell us to keep on going no matter what,” Haruka explains. “Which means if your swimsuit breaks, or if your nose clip falls out, you have to keep competing.”
But through it all, Haruka says the team works together to support each other. They often compete in choreographed routines as a group or in duets, which helps them bond. “Meeting my teammates five to six times a week, they’ve become my closest friends,” says Haruka.
And together, they help each other win. The squad has taken medals in competitions across Asia, and Haruka says there’s some friendly competition amongst the team as well. “My greatest threat is my teammate, she is one year older than me,” says Haruka. “My parents and coaches always compare me to her.”
But the team works together to build each other up, and support each other through what can be gruelling – and sometimes gross – competitions.
“Since we have to perform without our goggles on, our eyes often sting after about 30 minutes,” says Haruka. “Our coaches told us that if we put a few drops of milk in our eyes, they won’t sting anymore. You might think it’s gross and weird, but it actually works!”
What song/movie title best describes you when you’re playing your sport?
Fight Song by Rachel Platten.
You can have any superpower you choose for 24 hours. What do you choose and how do you use this power?
I’ve always wanted a superpower that would allow me to breathe underwater. I would use it at a competition, to impress my coach and the judges.
If you could have an unlimited supply of anything, what would it be and why?
I would want an unlimited supply of food, because food is what keeps me going all the time. If it wasn’t for food, I wouldn’t have been able to stay up till 2am revising for my tests.
10 years in the future, you are a famous athlete. What company do you sign-on as spokesperson for, and what product do you promote?
I would want to promote KCK aquatics, because their swimsuits are very comfortable and stylish, and not too expensive. They are the only swimsuits I wear to training, and almost most of my teammates wear them, too.