A synchronized swimming trio from Forest Lake took home a state title this year, defeating a rival team.
"We all just cried," junior Andrea Dunrud said. "This is our third year in a row having a trio. It was kind of our year to take it."
Stephanie Brenk, Rachel Chatwin and Dunrud took first place in the extended trio at the Minnesota State Synchronized Swimming Championships on May 21-22. The trio finished second last year. As a team, Forest Lake finished fourth.
It was the first state title for Forest Lake's synchronized swimming team since 2004.
"So, it's been awhile," said co-head coach Laura Davison, whose teams have earned lots of second-, third- and fourth-place finishes at state in the past few years.
The trio pointed to their standout theme — songs about money — as a boost that put their routine on top. They had a lot of fun with their routine, and the moves just put everybody in a good mood, Chatwin said.
Besides the state title, Forest Lake also took down powerhouse Stillwater in the East Section Meet. It was the first time in 21 years that the section title went to a team other than Stillwater.
"Everyone pretty much just went crazy," Dunrud said. "Everyone was just so excited. Lots of tears."
Chatwin pointed to routine difficulty and their depth of talented swimmers as the reasons for coming in first this year. Forest Lake also had 52 of its 66 members competing at the state meet this year. That's the most the school has sent to the meet, by far, Davison said.
Also in the better-than-ever category, Forest Lake finished with a 6-1 record this year. The only loss was to Stillwater in a routines meet. However, Forest Lake defeated Stillwater in the figures meet for the first time.
"I think it pushed us harder, because we knew we could beat them," Chatwin said.
"They're a great team," Davison said of Stillwater. "It's actually, I think, really good for us to have that competition."
The Rangers have done well for themselves this season, despite some limitations. Practice at the six-lane pool is three hours on Saturday mornings, while most teams in the state practice all day, according to Davison. Only five on their squad swim year-round as part of club swimming.
But it's not about making excuses, it's about time management.
"We do not waste time, and I think that helps us with our overall drive," Davison said. "Our team theme has been to work crazy-hard."
There's quite a bit of overlap on the Forest Lake team with girls on the swimming and diving team in the fall, but don't mistake synchro for swimming.
"It's more creative," Chatwin said. "I feel like you use more of your body."
They use their heads, necks, arms, abs, toes and legs in synchro, which the girls and their coach said is a combination or dance, gymnastics, cheerleading and swimming.
Using the success this season for momentum, Dunrud knows her teammates are excited for next year, because they know it's possible to beat the powerhouse teams. The Rangers graduate 12 seniors from the team, but "it won't be a hard transition," Dunrud said. Davison sees next season as another in which"we're going to work out butts off."
Defeating Stillwater for the first time and topping other trios for a state title sets the tone going forward.
"I think it sends a message to other teams that it's attainable," Davison said. "It's exciting because there are girls who want to do it again."