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“Mom was really a pioneer, and an advocate for me living a fulfilled life,” Cooley says. “The doctors had told her that she needed to help build the capacity and strength of my lungs as much as possible. So my ‘cure’ began with my first stroke in a pool. And that changed my life–and my fate–forever.”. By the time Cooley was a high school student in Richmond, Va., she was a member of the local synchronized swimming team. Coached by International Swimming Hall of Famer and U.S. Olympic trials judge Peg Hogan, Cooley received the grounding that would later catapult her to the top of the synchro world. But at the time, her sights stretched no further than a move to California.

“My whole high school career was focused on going to Santa Clara, joining the Aquamaids and being coached by Chris Carver, I went to school with wet hair every day; as soon as I jumped in the car in the morning, my mom would pull my cap on my head, and off to practice I’d go, My entire life revolved around becoming an Aquamaid someday.”, In 1986 Carver extended an invitation to Cooley to join her team, then ranked No, 1 in the world, Cooley’s parents made the move to the Golden State; soon their daughter was competing in (and winning) synchro events around the globe, By 2005 she was named the national solo and duet champion; the next year she took home gold in the duet and bronze in the solo at Stanford’s World Masters competition, then nabbed yet another duet gold sparkle ballet flats shoes clean stones silver crystal glitter women slipers for bride wedding shoes the following year in the same contest..

During Cooley’s 16-year Aquamaids tenure she swam with whales as a featured performer at SeaWorld, and landed a lead role in the “Splash” review on the Las Vegas Strip. This “glamorous” era halted temporarily when Cooley dove into her first marriage and motherhood in Los Gatos. Then her husband, who frequently played tennis at Courtside, happened to mention to club management that his wife was a synchro champ. Says Cooley, “They asked me to form a little synchro team. We started teaching the younger residents how to do some simple synchronized swimming moves. An invitation to return each week was soon forthcoming.

“That was really an awakening moment for me: It’s given me so much joy, it’s almost overwhelming,” Cooley reveals, “The way the people there hug you–and the fact that you can make them feel special–that’s worth all the medals in the world.”, Cooley’s connection with Via isn’t unprecedented: In 2009 she was the only coach to sparkle ballet flats shoes clean stones silver crystal glitter women slipers for bride wedding shoes say “yes” when 9-year-old Raquel Boales tried out for a spot on her team, As a result of having been lodged in the birth canal during delivery, Boales, now a sophomore at Saratoga High School, suffered severe damage in the brachial plexus (a network of five nerves that conducts signals from the spinal cord to the shoulder, arm and hand) on her left side, Boales had been told by the coaches of virtually every other sport and dance team that she couldn’t make the grade, Then she met Coach Katie..

“Raquel had been swimming and doing some gymnastics for a while, but she was really discouraged because she couldn’t do the same things the other girls were doing,” says Tina, her mom. “Katie didn’t care about Raquel’s disability, as long as she could swim. And once Raquel jumped in the pool, she never looked back.”. In her first two years on Cooley’s team, the younger Boales racked up a pile of gold and silver medals (after Cooley retired the Angelfish, Boales earned more than 40 medals as an Aquamaid). “We quickly discovered that synchronized swimming not only offered therapeutic benefits, but it was a sport in which Raquel could excel,” Tina says.

“When I first started synchro, it was very challenging,” says Raquel, “I couldn’t move my arm at the pace of the other girls, and keeping up in basic strokes such as freestyle was a hassle, My arm and shoulder were still very weak, so jumping into physical activity really hurt, But being able to exercise and have fun at the same time has not only helped me gain more muscle faster; it’s sparkle ballet flats shoes clean stones silver crystal glitter women slipers for bride wedding shoes extended my endurance to a level I never thought possible.”, Last year, following an intensive monthlong training session with Cooley, Boales made history as the first disabled synchro swimmer to take gold in both the routines and figures competitions at the 2014 Canadian Espoir Championships (Canada’s annual national contest), Thanks to her success, the Canadian government contacted Tina to ask if she might be willing to recruit other countries to involve disabled athletes in synchronized swimming, “Ninety percent of Canada’s synchro clubs have programs for adults with disabilities, They’re really at the forefront of including athletes with disabilities in all sports,” Tina notes..

Boales, her daughter, Cooley and synchro enthusiasts worldwide have since launched a movement that–if all goes according to plan–will see synchronized swimming being added for the first time to the Paralympic Games. The road to this inclusion will be a long one, and will see Boales and her colleagues meeting with the leaders of many nations. Their journey began in 2014, when the board of directors of the newly minted nonprofit Synchronized Swimming–Adults With Disabilities traveled to Taiwan to speak at a three-day symposium. In attendance were representatives from Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Israel, the U.S. and the host country, including Taiwan’s governor and mayor. All enthusiastically discussed the merits of expanding the Paralympics to include synchro.

From that event have come invitations to visit all of the participating countries, According to USOC rules, the guarantee of participation from five federations and 20 countries is sparkle ballet flats shoes clean stones silver crystal glitter women slipers for bride wedding shoes required to add a new sport to the Paralympic schedule, So next on tap, Cooley will join Boales in a swing through Spain this December, with stops in Italy, Portugal and the U.K, scheduled as well, Depending on financing, presentations next year in Japan and Russia are also being discussed, Which is where the Bay Area Aqua Legs come in..

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