Synchronized Swimming In The Sea

It’s like dancing in the ocean. Movements in synchronicity with the water – in part controlled by your body and part guided by the rhythm of the ocean. The music blends with the sounds of the waves, birds and planes. If this connection to nature intrigues you, join like-minded swimmers in our community tomorrow, Saturday, July 23rd on Beach 94th Street for the first of five synchro swimming workshops.

Artist Ritta Ikonen is the organizer who conceptualized this project. She shares the details:

Synchronized Sea Swimming Club is a series of five free performance workshops where anyone can take part in performances and routines that are in sync with Rockaway’s most formidable neighbor, the Atlantic Ocean.

 Recognized and celebrated as the all-encompassing force across cultures and times, the sea will act as the main protagonist throughout the project, connecting humans with their surroundings and their respective cultural expressions.

 Success is measured by finding harmony with the Atlantic Ocean. Anyone, regardless of background, status, or orientation can join in for free, for one or all of the workshops.

 Immersing yourself in seawater, your whole body understands things your eyes never will. One may experience relief by being held entirely by a living mass, an ocean larger and more primal than what we frequently perceive.

 The Synchronized Sea Swimming project will begin with a meeting and a presentation with a synchronized swimming coach Kara Gadeker, who will introduce the participants to the basics of the sport and inspire commitment ideally to all workshops. Gadeker, swam competitive synchro in VA for 16 years and has a PhD in marine science. Our other teacher is the land and the sea. Participants will practice various choreography in the water over the five sessions to gain more profound ways of listening and interacting with our surroundings.

 Photographers Susannah Ray (@susannahrayphotography) on land and Jena Cumbo (@jenacumbo) in the water will be documenting this project.

What I find most interesting about this interactive swim experience is, unlike the Olympic sport of synchronized swimming, Ritta’s intention is non-anthropocentric. The workshop will focus on our connection as humans to nature. This theme is overarching in all of Ritta Ikonen’s artistic pursuits.

Seachanges, which has become very popular in Rockaway, is a winter artistic swimming practice inspired by Ikonen’s native Finland, where cold water plunges are the norm. Riitta’s goal during the pandemic was to build community during an unprecedented human experience, while connecting us to our natural world. When Riita is not swimming in the sea, she is collaborating on projects such as her work with artist Karoline Hjorth. Eyes As Big As Plates explores the personifications of nature and folkloric traditions in Nordic countries. The duo’s work consists of one hundred plus stunning portraits where humans are integrated into natural environments throughout 14 countries thus far.

Join the synchronicity! The first swim is tomorrow, Saturday, July 23 from 1-4pm. Additional sessions:

July 30 & 31, 1-3pm
August 6, 1-3pm
August 27, 1-3pm

Swim playlist by Mister Ian Wright (@misterianw) from Do!!You!!! Radio

This project is made possible (in part) by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


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