Taylor Sullivan of Lake View will be the first swimmer from the Hamburg area to swim at the United States Age Group National Championships, which begins this weekend in Seattle.
Taylor Sullivan celebrated her ninth birthday not too long ago, and this coming weekend she will already be competing in the national spotlight.
Sullivan, from Lake View, will swim with her Buffalo Swimkins Synchronized Swimming Team in Seattle from June 27-July 5 in the United States Age Group National Championships.
She will be a part of her team competing against other squads in the 11-12 age group at nationals, but for a girl as young as her, does Sullivan and her teammates know the magnitude of their next competition in Seattle?
“I think Taylor does, but because she’s so young she’s just enjoying that she is able to go to this,” said Kristina Sullivan, Taylor’s mother and a Swimkins coach. “She’s very excited to take the airplane trip across country and she has seen pictures of the pool we’ll be swimming in. She knows it’s a huge competition, but I don’t think she has fully wrapped her mind around it yet.”
Of the 52 years that the Swimkins have been around, Taylor is the first swimmer from the Hamburg area to qualify for the national championship meet, according to Katherine.
The Swimkins have been around for 52 years. Kristina was a synchronized swimming in Tonawanda before heading to school at Canisius College. She had one sister who swam at Ohio State. Her youngest sister, Michelle Moore, swam at Stanford and went to participate in the Olympic in London.
Kristina has been coaching since before Taylor was born, so her daughter was always around the pool, but Moore swam recent enough for Taylor to watch and admire.
“One day she just said ‘Mom, can I get into the pool and do synchronized swimming with the girls you coach?’ And that’s pretty much how it started,” Kristina said. “She just watched and watched until she finally wanted to do it herself.”
The 11-12 Swimkins qualified for the national competition with a great showing at the Eastern United States Synchronized Swimming Age Group Championships, which was held in New Canaan, CT from June 7-9.
Previously, the Swimkins qualified at a regional championships meet.
In the team competition for the 11-12 Age Group Division at Easterns, Taylor Sullivan joined Ashley Latchford (Cheektowaga), Megan Beers (Clarence), Madison Lavocat (Williamsville), Barbara Williams (Clarence), Grace Haxton (West Seneca) and Betsy Brennan (Clarence) took take first place.
Latchford and Williams also made the Eastern United States 12 & Under all-star team.
Latchford placed first in the solo competition. The duo of Williams and Beers took fourth place in the duets.
Latchford and Beers teamed up with Lavocat to take first place in trio. Williams, Haxton and Brennan took fourth.
In figures, Latchford placed second and Williams was eighth.
“Our girls had a great showing. They did phenomenal,” said Kristina, who competed against 25-odd teams in New Canaan. “Most of my girls have been swimming from two to four years and they competed to girls that have been swimming up to six years.”
In the 10 & Under Age Group Division, Taylor Sullivan placed third in the solo competition.
Bethany Brzycky of Cheektowaga teamed up with Kate Williams to take second in the duets. Taylor Sullivan joined Kate Williams and Maille Young (Cheektowaga) for a first place finish in the trios, and Sullivan earned fourth in the figures.
For the Swimkins participating in the 13 & Over Intermediate Division, Abby Gibson of Amherst and Williamsville native Emily Schwarz took the top spot in duets. Gibson and Schwarz took earned another first place performance with Jade Young (Cheektowaga) in the trios.
The foursome of Gibson, Schwarz, Young and Olivia Tober (Sanborn) gave the 13 & Overs another top finish, placing first in team.
In figures, Gibson took fourth for the Swimkins. Young placed fifth and Schwarz had a performance worthy of sixth place.
“With our group, we have swimmers from all over Western New York,” Kristina Sullivan said. “We kind of gathered kids from all over. We’re a growing club and I think it’s cool to have younger girls achieving such honors at a young age.”
The Swimkins’ accomplishments was no small task as the girls competed with over 230 swimmers that qualified to participate in the Eastern Championships.
Kristina Sullivan estimated over 1,000 swimmers will be in participation at the national meet in Seattle, making it one of the largest synchronized swimming contests in the world.