Dubai Mermaids: Catching the synchronised swimming wave

INFO POST: One of the best things about our sparkling emirate is the range of water sports available. From surfing to shark safaris, paddleboarding to scuba diving, the blue stuff offers something for everyone. For guest writer Kristin Lewis, it was her daughter’s new-found interest in synchronised swimming that led to a bedazzling foray into a watery world of sequins and hair gelatin. Over to Kristin …

We are a pretty active family, so one of my initial fears about moving to Dubai was having to adopt a heat-induced passive lifestyle. Not that it would necessarily trickle down to my kids – who I imagined would be scaling the ceiling, inventing new hairstyles for the dog, Jackson Pollock-ing the walls with toothpaste and building epic forts in every room. But parental sanity would definitely be affected.

As it turns out, I needn’t have worried about my kids being bored here. This city has everything imaginable for a kid. And then some.

With the sea generally fairly flat, stand-up paddleboarding has become popular in the UAE
With the sea generally fairly flat, stand-up paddleboarding has become popular in the UAE

Of course, there are the pools and beach clubs. Whether it’s a community pool, a five-star resort or the whole range in between, these are always MUCH nicer than the run-of-the-mill fare you might find in just about any other country. You still need to keep your mind away from thoughts of leaky swim diapers, snotty noses and the occasional floating Band-Aid, but you would find that anywhere.

What you won’t find everywhere is the endless opportunities of paddleboarding, kayaking, surfing, scuba diving, volleyball, jet skiing – even land and water obstacle courses – that you find at Dubai beaches. Additionally, lots of pools offer cool classes, including swimming for all ages, water aerobics for the slightly aged, diving and synchronised swimming.

My 13-year-old daughter just caught the synchronised swimming wave and loves it. She started going once a week, then twice a week and was invited to join a squad. She’s a tall, slender girl who, at times, is sort of the opposite of her given name of Grace. After a year at this sport though, she is really learning the fluid movements and pointed toes of a synchronised swimmer.

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Dubai water ballerinas turn the pool into a stage

Not only has it been a learning experience for her, but for me too. I learned how to shop for an almost-impossible-to-find plain black bathing suit AND expand my non-existent sewing repertoire by hand-stitching hundreds of sequins onto the suit. The silver sequins were supposed to create this nice swirly pattern, but as my daughter checked in on my handiwork she asked, “Why did you stitch a question mark on my suit?”

When she first modeled it for me, it was true – the suit seemed to ask, “Why did you let your Mom do this?” Needless to say, we all hope it’s a pre-decorated swim costume next time.

Making a splash

I also learned to gelatin her hair so it would stay neat in the water. After watching several YouTube videos, I thought I had the process down pat. Turns out, I didn’t thin out the solution quite enough, resulting in thousands of tiny glue balls in my daughter’s hair. I allowed myself three hours of prep time which was clearly not enough, as I didn’t have time for a re-do. So, let’s just say that, unless we were up for the Lazy American award, we didn’t represent our country well, because every other nationality looked fastidiously tidy with proper swirls, sleek hair and bold makeup.

Thank goodness my daughter’s a laid-back kid and was okay with the question mark, glue balls and makeup I managed to borrow poolside from another mom. In my defence though, after gliding and somersaulting through the water for several minutes, she had not one hair out of place.

NEXT WEEK: If water activity is not your child’s thing, that’s no problem. Despite the heat, Kristin can truthfully say they are never bored.

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