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GCU Artistic Swimming: Building a foundation

June 10, 2020

Lopes bring in new head coach, experienced recruits for Year 2

By: Julie Laugel/GCU Staff

Grand Canyon University Club Artistic Swimming, formerly known as Synchronized Swimming, is one of two new aquatic sports to be added to the GCU Club Sports website this coming year along with Water Polo.

The program was formed last fall to provide more opportunities for athletes to compete and advance their skills in the water by GCU Club Swimming member and Assistant Coach Isabella Montiel. After spending last year as the team’s coach, Montiel will perform with the team and become an assistant coach along with current GCU Club Swimming Head Coach Jeremy Phung moving forward.

“I didn’t know much about “synchro” or water polo, but I know they are very underrated sports,” said Phung. “Not a lot of people watch them or really know about them – other than (seeing them in) the Olympics every four years. This is super exciting for me to just be a part of it, learn more about it, and have the opportunity for people to join it.”

“I’m most excited about artistic swimming because synchro has been my life forever,” said Montiel. “I’m excited to get back into it and compete again.”

In the first year as a program, Montiel and Phung recruited 12 athletes with little to no experience in artistic swimming. Despite the lack of experience, the team practiced throughout the academic year and performed during the GCU Canyon Classic Swim Meet.

“I watched them from the start of their practices when they knew nothing, to their performance (at the Canyon Classic), and I was really surprised,” said Phung. “It was a really good performance. They are all excited to participate in something that they’ve never done before, pick up a new skill and enjoy it, then perform and continue that throughout their college career.”

The Lopes will increase their competition level in the upcoming season by joining the USA Artistic Swimming club program, which includes two local teams, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University. The team will have local competitions with UofA and NAU, as well as attend the regional and national tournaments at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

To help prepare them for competition, the Lopes just brought on a new head coach, Kaitlyn Carboun, as well as five incoming recruits – two of which have years of artistic swimming experience.

Carboun is a recent graduate and former artistic swimmer from Ohio State University. Originally from Arizona, Carboun began artistic swimming at the age of 12 for the City of Mesa Aquatics and continued to swim at the club level. She was then recruited for artistic swimming at OSU, which is one of only five NCAA varsity programs in the country. During her time as a Buckeye, she served as team captain for two years and won three national championships.

“There is not a (collegiate) team in this area, but there are a lot of club teams, so there’s a great opportunity for the team to grow,” said Carboun. “I can see it being a very competitive team and program in the future.”

With 11 athletes on the current roster, the Lopes will split into a squad of eight for a team performance and three for a trio performance, focusing on one performance per athlete.

“We just want to make sure we have a good, solid year for (the program’s) foundation, and then want to build on that,” said Phung.

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