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A 50 year tradition, Prairie Village synchronized swimming team in danger of having season canceled
A Prairie Village tradition appears to be in danger of coming to an end.
With just over a month left before team registration closes, city parks and recreation administrators are having a difficult time finding a coach to lead Prairie Village’s synchronized swimming, threatening to cancel the season — and with it the 53rd annual Water Show.
“It’s something that we thought we might see coming,” said Chris Engel, who runs the city’s pools programming. “There aren’t a lot of people in the area who have the skill set to coach the program — the sport is much bigger on the coasts. There is the fear that if we have to cancel the program once, maybe it won’t ever come back.”
Last year’s coach had been planning to return this season, but got a teaching job that required her to report for duty before the Water Show — the culmination of the synchronized swimming team’s season — would hit the pool in July.
Engel said 25 to 30 girls usually register for the team each year. He and former team members say it’s an opportunity for girls who aren’t interested in competitive speed swimming to get the experience of being part of a team.
Nancy Morgan, who performed on the team as a youth and then came back as its coach for two stints, said the prospect of losing synchronized swimming was heartbreaking.
“The girls have such a good time,” she said. “It’s been a tradition for more than 50 years. You just hate think of that coming to an end.”
Engel has been reaching out to members of the Kansas City Sea Sprites, a professional team, and the local dance community to try to find someone whose schedule would allow them to coach the team. But, he says, if they still haven’t found a coach by the time registration ends May 18, he’ll have to make a call about whether the season, scheduled to start June 4, will go on at all.
“One of the things when you hire good people is that they get other opportunities, so you have to expect that they’ll go at some point, and that’s what happened with our coach,” he said. “But it would be sad not to have a Water Show this year. It’s a multigenerational tradition here.”
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