SIOUX FALLS, SD -
As the first day of school inches closer, children across KELOLAND are taking advantage of summer, spending time outdoors and testing out their swimming legs in area pools.
One Sioux Falls 12-year-old is spending her time in the pool for a different reason: she's training to go to the 2016 Olympics.
For nearly half of her life, 12-year-old Delaney Simmons has been swimming, twirling and even dancing in water.
"Started swimming when I was really little, and I like swimming but I was also doing gymnastics and ballet, and my mom told me to choose one, and I said I wanted to do all of them," Simmons said.
That's what led Simmons to synchronized swimming. She competed in her first meet when she was eight-years-old and has been pushing to be the best ever since.
As a member of the Sioux Falls Cygnets Synchronized Swim Team, Simmons spends six to eight hours in the pool every week and even more time conditioning to make sure she can perform above and below the water.
“Once you get the hang of it, it's kind of easy, except for the harder stuff,” Simmons said.
Over the years, her talent has grown, and her dedication is paying off.
“We place very well. We've had kids in the top seven at national age group championships. Delaney finished 14th in our National Team trials. Kids in the United States were asked to go; she missed the team by four spots. If she would have made the team, she would have trained at the Olympic training center all summer long, and then gone to Peru in the fall for a competition,” Coach Shelly Boskey said.
"Next year, I want to go to Nationals. I'll be in the 13-15 age group and it's a little harder, so I want to qualify for Nationals,” Simmons said.
And after that, she has an even bigger goal.
“I hope someday to be in the Olympics,” Simmons said.
But Simmons can't do it without her team. Boskey says the group is like a family, and the older girls have been working with Simmons to help her improve her moves.
“We want this girl to do well. We're a team; it's not about yourself. Everybody pushes Delaney and I think she's real appreciative of it,” Boskey said.
“Yeah, they do push us. They're a lot of help because they've been in a lot more than us,” Simmons said.
Simmons says every practice helps her get better, and with each competition, she gets even more experienced in the eye of the judges, both on her solo routines and group performances.
“Usually, you can just tell when everybody is in sync, and it just feels really good to know that you're swimming at the same time, like to come up for a jump up and see everybody get up at the exact same time, is pretty cool,” Simmons said.
“It teaches them a lot for life, and I always say, 'You know what. Whenever something gets tough, just remember that you're upright and vertical and you can breath,'” Boskey said.
With those words of wisdom, and role models guiding her along the way, Simmons hopes her years of perseverance pay off and her Olympic dreams come true.
“I try to keep pushing myself, and hope that one day it's good enough,” Simmons said.
The next goal for Simmons is to make the cut for the United States National Team next year. If she makes the top 10 at the National competition for her age group, she'll train with the team.
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