IT started as an itch to try something a little different.
Seven years on, Emmerson Dickson has made the 2021 New Zealand Pikopiko Artistic Swimming Under-16 Development Squad
The former Queenstown resident took up synchronised swimming aged 5 when the Alpine Synchro club started in the resort town.
“It took a bit to get used to but it just came naturally after a while,” she said.
Two years ago, Emmerson started boarding at St John’s Girls’ School in Invercargill and joined the Phoenix Synchronised Swimming Club for a change of scenery.
“I wanted to start somewhere new and join a new club.”
One of two girls from Southland who made the Pikopiko squad Phoenix clubmate Heilala Pita training religiously six times a week, before and after school, had paid off.
While trials for the squad “were pretty tough”, she pulled through when judged on her flexibility, skills, strength and counts, she said.
From seagulls to porpoises, there were lots of “strange names” for the stunts she had learned during the years.
Being thrown out of the water and into the air was also something she had got quite familiar with.
“Those are the ones that score you the most points with the judges.”
One of the biggest challenges as an athlete was getting up really early in the morning, she said.
“You do get used to it, your body has a clock and it becomes easier.”
While juggling her studies and swimming was hard at times, she always found a way to make it work because of her love for the sport, she said.
“I like it because it’s something a bit different.
“It’s a mix between gymnastics, dance and swimming and you get to explore all that.”
With plenty of first, second and third place titles at national level under her belt, her goal was to one day represent her country in the Commonwealth Games.
However, none of it would have been possible without the support of her parents, who were also heavily involved in the world of synchronised swimming, and her coaches, she said.
With the 2020 NZ Artistic Swimming National Championships scheduled for December 12-14, Emmerson had her fingers crossed she would soon be able to take her talent to the world stage.