National Team Check In: Three Teams Preparing for International Opportunities
by Alyssa Jacobs, USA Artistic Swimming
The three teams that make up the USA National Team program have been hard at work this summer preparing athletes for international opportunities to grow and represent the country.
Over Memorial Day weekend, the youth team met for the first time in Charlotte at the United States Performance Center for a training camp to get acclimated with each other and the coaching staff of Ludi Perrin-Stsepaniuk and Laura Mase. The first stop in the summer training schedule was made possible through a fantastic partnership with the USPC and Charlotte Sports Commission. The athletes come from eight different clubs across the country and will work to become one team this summer. The group of 12 will spend just over a month training full-time together in Las Vegas and will represent our country in August at the 2023 Youth World Championships in Greece in the solo, duet, mixed duet and team events. This year’s team has big shoes to fill in Athens, as the 2022 squad, also under the direction of head coach Ludi, secured the Youth World Championship Overall High Point award on home turf.
Athletes named to the youth team include Kanako Field (La Mirada Aquabelles), Wendi Ning (Houston Synchrostars), Sophia Shen (New Canaan Y Aquianas), Sophia Tsives (Santa Clara Aquamaids), Hannah Ryou (La Mirada Aquabelles), Olivia Zhu (Santa Clara Aquamaids), Abigail Gallon (La Mirada Aquabelles), Ghizal Akbar (Walnut Creek Aquanauts), Mona Schwickert (Scottsdale Synchro), Samantha Chu (Akula Artistic Swimming), Dempsey Raftus (Austin Angelfish) and Michael Chan (La Mirada Aquabelles). Six athletes are returners from the 2022 youth team.
The junior team has a different kind of opportunity to look forward to this summer focused on individual growth rather than international competition. The group of 14 will head to Spain for two weeks for a revived version of the Olympic Development Program under the direction of head coach Megan Abarca and assistant coaches Ou Liu and Monica-Velazquez Stiak. First, they will also meet at the United States Performance Center to kick off their training and begin their summer journeys. The three coaches will work together to develop the skills of the selected athletes in Barcelona at the Spanish National Training Center through curriculum targeted at growing future Olympic stars.
Athletes named to the junior team include Danielle Ovadia (Walnut Creek Aquanuts), Manu Pindi (Pirouettes of Texas), Lisa Kizis (Pacific Waves Synchronized Swimming), Janneke Dirven (Santa Clara Aquamaids), Jennifer Ryu (Nevada Desert Mermaids), Kennah Burdette (Arizona Desert Dolphins), Karen Xue (Walnut Creek Aquanuts), Yanna Hauck (Walnut Creek Aquanuts), Ayla Barry (Santa Clara Aquamaids), Angela Hu (Scottsdale Synchro), Elle Santana (Arizona Desert Dolphins), Haley Chu (Walnut Creek Aquanuts), Emileen Moore (Walnut Creek Aquanuts) and Gianna Bonacorso (Santa Clara Aquamaids).
Of course, the newly solidified senior squad has been hard at work preparing for the 2023 World Championships and Pan American Games in July and November, respectively. More detailed previews of the senior national team’s preparation will be available closer to competition.
July 2023 National Team Check In