By Callan Date
WHEN Coral Bentley took the plunge and decided to put her callisthenic skills to the test in the water she gave little thought to representing her country in synchronised swimming.
But that is exactly what the Narre Warren resident will be doing next month when she travels to Japan to compete in the Synchronised Swimming World Cup.
The 21-year-old has spent the last 10 years fine-tuning her breathing and under-water skills and has left many a competitor in her wake.
“I did squad swimming when I was younger but wasn’t very fast and I did callisthenics for 16 years which has helped my synchronised swimming,” Ms Bentley said.
Although the elegant sport generally takes a backseat to the exciting races of Thorpe, Lenton, Hackett and other aquatic stars, Ms Bentley believes synchronised swimming deserves more recognition.
The Dandenong Dolphins Synchronised Swimming Club member will compete in a team of seven other swimmers and perform a technical and freestyle routine at the Japan event.
“The last two weeks I have been training up to nine hours a day at MSAC (Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre) in preparation for the event in Japan,” she said.
Ms Bentley has represented Australia several times at junior level and her exceptional ability in the sport has enabled her to travel the world.
“I have been to a few different countries to compete including USA, Canada, Germany and Japan.”
But with travel comes cost and obtaining sponsors is a rarity in the sport of international synchronised swimming.
The trip to Japan will cost $2500 and will be paid almost entirely out of Ms Bentley’s own pocket.
The Australian Sports Commission will fund a small amount of the trip but lack of sponsors will ensure the swimming teacher at North Lodge Swimming Academy in Dandenong continues to spend more time than most in the water.
“You need great self-discipline to train and compete at such a high level. My social life has been a bit restricted because I am always training and preparing for events.”
Ms Bentley hopes to be in Asia again in two years time when the eyes of the world are on Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games.
But for now her sight is set on a successful World Cup campaign and further recognition for the sport she loves.