e Drew put her infant daughter Emily in the water for the first time, she could already tell that H2O would become a significant part of her child’s life down the road.
“Emily just loved the water. When she was a baby you could tell she just loved being in the water,” she said. “I knew she was going to be talented.”
By the time Emily was 6 months old, she was already enrolled in her first swimming lesson courses. Emily’s experiences in the pool differed greatly from those of her mother.
“She started out at the North Kitsap (Community Pool) when she wasn’t even a year old,” Stephanie Drew said. “She’s the opposite of me. I can’t even swim at all. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to get her involved in swimming.”
As a 6-year-old, Emily’s advanced skills caught the eye of Bangor synchronized swimming coach Brenda Kulsa.
“Brenda was pretty impressed with what she saw,” Stephanie Drew said. “She said she usually didn’t take synchronized swimmers under the age of 10 years old, but said she wanted Emily on her team.”
It didn’t take long for Emily to get hooked on the sport of synchronized swimming. The sport consists of swimming, gymnastics and dance all rolled into one.
“Emily absolutely fell in love with the sport,” Stephanie said. “She hasn’t stopped since she started.”
Emily nodded her in head with approval while her mother was making the statement about her passion for the sport.
“I really like going to practice. I can’t wait to go to the pool every day,” Emily said. “It’s so fun. My whole life I’ve loved it.”
The hard work paid dividends in the biggest competition of Emily’s career at the ESYNCHRO Age Group National Championships from June 22-30 Oxford, Ohio.
Emily earned first place in the figures portion and second place in the solo portion of the 11 to 12-year-old division for her Seattle Synchronized swimming team.
“I was happy when I found out I got first place,” Emily said. “I didn’t really think I was getting first until I received the gold medal. It was fun.”
Emily said she was worried about competing in Nationals.
“I was really nervous, I was thinking, ‘Should I even go out there’,” she said. “But once I got out there, I wasn’t nervous at all anymore.”
Emily’s mother Stephanie was ecstatic to see her daughter achieve excellence on the biggest platform possible.
“It was absolutely unbelievable seeing her stand up on the podium to accept her medals,” Stephanie said. “It was one of the proudest moments I’ve ever had.”
“She practices five or six days a week for three hours a day,” she added. “She practices everyday in Seattle. She’s been with Seattle Synchro for the past three years.”
The Drews decided to put Emily on the Seattle squad because the Bangor Synchronized disbanded in 2004.
“She wanted to continue competing and there wasn’t a team in the Poulsbo area anymore for her age level,” Stephanie said. “So we decided she would join Seattle Synchro.”
Emily’s team practices five days a week at Seattle Synchro’s home pool in Kenmore.
The daily grind to practice is a lengthy one.
“The commute takes about four hours. We leave our house (in Poulsbo) at 2 p.m., catch the Kingston ferry to Edmonds and get there for practice at about 4:30 p.m.,” Stephanie said. Practice ends at about 7:30 p.m. and the Drews don’t get home until about 9:30 p.m.
But it’s a sacrifice worth making, she said, adding, “It’s Emily’s dream to one day be in the Olympics.”