'N Synchro 

The country's best swimmers float into town.

The U.S. Masters Synchronized Swimming - Championships come to town this weekend.
  • The U.S. Masters Synchronized Swimming Championships come to town this weekend.

The synchronized swimming world looks to Cleveland this weekend, when the U.S. Masters Synchronized Swimming Championships take place. It features more than 250 competitors, ranging in age from 20 to 85.

"I think people will look at it and say, 'Wow, how do they do this?'" says Amy McClintock, a event coordinator. "It's a combination of gymnastics, ballet, strength, and conditioning."

The 35-year-old McClintock knows firsthand the demands required to compete with the country's Olympic-worthy swimmers. Her team, the Des Moines Aquamaids, placed third at the 2001 nationals. "But I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be," she says. "Maybe because I was older, and I knew I was going to have fun."

Solo finals take place Thursday, with competitors judged on porpoise, flamingo, heron thrust, and "ballet leg" moves. On Friday and Saturday, duets and trios perform three-and-a-half-minute routines, which are scored on timing, precision, and underwater drills. Finals for teams, which consist of four to eight swimmers, round out the weekend on Sunday. The action starts at 1 p.m. Thursday, 8:30 a.m. Friday and Sunday, and 8 a.m. Saturday at Cleveland State University's Busby Natatorium, 2451 Euclid Avenue. Admission is $10; call 216-687-4809. -- Cris Glaser

Comfort Creatures
Try a seasonal hike at night without the fright.

SAT 10/25

"We want people to understand that the woods, particularly at night, is not a scary place." So says Rocky River Nature Center manager Ken Gober, who's in charge of the Halloween Night Hike. The 45-minute, family-friendly stroll features tales about owls and spiders and other Halloweenie critters. There's also pre- and post-hike snacks and storytelling back at the Nature Center. "It's an alternative to the more gory events," Gober says. "And everyone can go away having learned something." Hikes depart every 10 minutes, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, at Rocky River Nature Center (at Rocky River Reservation, 24000 Valley Parkway in North Olmsted). Admission is free, but tickets are required; call 440-734-6660. -- Melody Caraballo

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