Olympic hopeful Tsai gears up for Synchronised Swimming Championships


Olympic synchronised swimming hopeful Debbie Tsai
Olympic synchronised swimming hopeful Debbie Tsai

SEVERAL West Coast Splash members are gearing up for the National Synchronised Swimming Championships at HBF Stadium on April 11 and 12.

Olympic hopeful Debbie Tsai will join fellow Claremont-based members Zooe Hewson (Wembley), Jessica Eidne (Cottesloe), Michelle Ammon (Dalkeith), Gabbi Percic (Shenton Park) and Emma Levett (Cottesloe) to compete against swimmers from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand.

Tsai (21) takes the position of flyer in the Australian Synchronised Swimming Squad, a role that has her on top of team lifts and throws.

The UWA graduate said she enjoyed the high-pressure position.

“I was a national level gymnast in Singapore, where I was born, and also had a background in ballet but was an absolutely terrible swimmer when I started synchro in Perth at age 13,” she said.

“I was one of the founding members of West Coast Splash at its inception in 2009. I’d previously swum for a year in Singapore before I came to Australia, and the rest is history.

“I started the sport relatively late but I was drawn to it because it’s something that’s a little bit different to everything else, it is a melting pot of skills.”

While Tsai was part of the shadow squad for the London 2012 Olympics, this year will be her first crack at the competing team.

“I didn’t quite make the cut for London, so I’m hoping to go one better this time,” she said.

“People make fun of the sport all the time, but it’s actually a lot of hard work; here in WA actually has the most girls on the Olympic training squad.”

After studying business law and finance at UWA, Tsai was awarded a $3000 scholarship last year .

She said the university had been supportive of her 30 hour per week sport schedule.

“My degree was completely unrelated to sport however I managed to take several sports science units as electives as I thought they would help me understand myself as an athlete better and some of the different aspects of my training from a scientific perspective,” she said.

The final squad will present two team routines at the Olympics, a technical routine, with set elements to be performed in order and a free routine.

“Our free routine is based on the theme Australian animals, and is a development of the concept we have with our routine laste year which was all about Redback spiders,” Tsai said.

“It’s very different to what we’ve done before.”