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Firestone’s Catalina Club preparing for annual show

3/27/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

Shown are members of Firestone High School’s Catalina Club doing synchronized ballet legs.
Photo courtesy of Kimberly Drugan
WEST AKRON — Although Firestone High School has long been renowned for its championship-level competitive swim teams, the school also is known for another group of students who spend their time in the water for a different reason.

Firestone is host to the Catalina Club, a synchronized swim club that includes nearly three dozen students.

“Essentially, it is water ballet, and our purpose is to put on a show each year,” said Kimberly Drugan, who is the club’s adviser. “The five elected Catalina Club officers come up with a theme. We hold clinics and tryouts and then write and learn numbers for the show. Basically the show is the main activity the club is involved with.”

This year’s show, titled “Under the Big Top,” will be performed April 25-26.

“The show typically starts at dusk, which is around 8:15 p.m. The pool has large windows, so we have to wait until it is dark enough for our lights,” Drugan said. “The show is usually about two hours long, with a 15-minute intermission. There will be different stunts that are done in the water with swimmers of different skill levels. We don’t necessarily have them in any particular order in terms of skill level. The numbers are all kind of mixed around.”

All of the show’s numbers are based on the theme of the circus, Drugan said.

“You can expect to see a variety of synchronized swimming students choreographed to some of your favorite circus-themed tunes from both the past and present,” she stated. “We have an opening number that’s just a dance number, and then there are various numbers with the different synchronized swimming moves set to the music. The five officers, who really are the ones who wrote all of the routines, are in special numbers. It’s traditional that the president and the vice president of the club have a duet, and then typically the other three officers do a trio. There is also a number where all five are together.”

The Catalina Club’s officers this year are: Isabella Sabatina, president; Kendall Weinsheimer, vice president; Zoe Domonkos, secretary; Maggie Dempster, treasurer; and Sarah Shriber, recording secretary.

“At the end, we have the one number that’s called ‘Closing,’ and all the girls are in that,” Drugan said. “Most of the numbers have 10 girls or less, but the big numbers are really the opening and the closing. The entire group of girls are in both of those.”

According to Drugan, those who attend the show can expect to see “a number of synchronized swimming routines written and performed around a theme, along with a storyline with announcers.”

“We have lights and music that have been done for us by Mike Kemp and Sensory Perceptions since 1977. He is a staple of our show,” she said. “Tradition holds that the girls run out of the locker room at the beginning of the show to the Peanuts theme song.”

Drugan said the Catalina Club has been a fixture at Firestone “since the 1960s, when the school opened.”

“It has been a unique tradition at the school for many years,” she said. “When I was in high school, I was the president of my club in Cleveland Heights and was thrilled to find out there was another high school club out there. There are very few. I started as their adviser in 1995, when I first came to Firestone High School, and stayed through 2002. I then took several years off to raise my family. My daughter was 2 when I gave up Catalina Club, and she is now a freshman at Firestone and this is her first year in Catalina. In 2011, the girls asked me if I would come back. This is my third season back.”

Drugan said there are “about 35 girls” in this year’s club. In addition, several boys also are “working on a routine” to perform during this year’s show.

According to Drugan, membership in the Catalina Club does not require a certain swimming skill level.

“One of the aspects of the club that I have always enjoyed is that you don’t have to have any particular skill level to join,” she said. “It is supposed to be for fun. So we have had anywhere from state champion members of the swim team to kids who cannot swim in deep water. We teach all the new members what they need to know, and then write the routines around their skill level. It is open to any girl at Firestone that wants to be a part of it. You do not have to be on the swim team in order to be in the club, although over the years there have been many swimmers [from the swim team] who have joined Catalina and Catalina members who have joined swim team.”

Drugan said there are two special needs students in the club this year.

“One of the girls has been in the club for four years, and we have a new member this year,” she noted. “It is wonderful to have those girls participate in our club and shows what Firestone is really all about. The point of the club is to have fun and put on an entertaining show. We welcome any girl who wants to join and this year even have some boys in the club.”

Tickets for this year’s show are $5 in advance and can be purchased in person at Firestone High School, 333 Rampart Ave. Tickets also can be purchased at the door for $7.

For more details on the Catalina Club, go to www.firestonefalcons.org/catalina-club.

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