Arizona Coach is Dedicated to Synchro

March 20, 2018, 10:27 a.m. (ET)

ABOVE: The University of Arizona synchronized swimming team. BELOW: April, left, with her daughter Alexa.

 

There’s dedication.

And then there’s April Stallworth-level dedication.

Stallworth coaches two synchronized swimming programs seven days a week. That’s right: Seven. Days. A. Week.

For gas money.

“I guess you could call me crazy!” she says. “I don’t know what drives me to do that!”

Of course, she doesn’t coach at the University of Arizona (UA) and Tucson Synchro for just gas money. She’s there to make her mark and enjoy a sport she picked up at age 8.

“I like coaching because this is a sport that shaped my life, and I can only hope that I am making a difference in someone else’s life,” she says.

You could start with her two daughters. Alexa Stallworth was coached by her mother at UA, won a national title during her competitive synchro career and now coaches alongside April. Ayla Stallworth, a member of the UA squad, was named to two U.S. national teams.

And then there are all the other swimmers she’s helped mold: the trio that won at Junior Olympic Championships; several members who took gold at Age Group Nationals; and the programs she helped choreograph and coach in Peru.

Every day she’s leading the way. Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays it’s with Tucson Synchro; Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays it’s at the University of Arizona, where she’s been head coach for three years.

The weekday shifts, of course, are after working her full-time job.

It helps that she loves just everything about synchro.

“The thing I like best about synchro is the lifelong friendships I have made through this sport,” she says. “Other great things from this sport are the creativity, athleticism, uniqueness, the traveling and the fun!”

Stallworth is busy preparing her UA team for the U.S. Collegiate Championships, which run March 29-31 in Oro Valley, Ariz. The U.S. Senior National Championships follow at the same facility, the Oro Valley Aquatic Center, March 31-April 1.

“I do not have a full team of eight on my ‘A’ team, but I do have enough new swimmers to make a ‘B’ team,” she says. “We are excited for Collegiate Nationals. It’s always a lot of fun, and it’s exciting to see the top teams compete!”

Stallworth, who won several Florida state championships and was chosen for the Olympic Festival during her competitive career, said her coaching style has changed throughout the years. These days, she wants to make sure her swimmers are having fun and meeting their goals.

“A couple of years ago when I was coaching Tucson Synchro for Age Group Nationals we had about four weeks of training left. I incorporated the athletes into coaching themselves throughout the practice,” she says. “We would swim lap by lap with half of the team. The other half watched and corrected their teammates while floating on rafts. They had fun, got a break, and were able to see what I was correcting all the time.

“It actually worked great and we accomplished so much that year. Whenever I have a big meet we are training for, I will use this method.”

The next big meet is almost here. Time for Stallworth to get back to work.