Thu March 23
It was only three months ago that Rebecca Barras (Kitchener-Waterloo, ON) and Mélanie Rinaldi (Montréal, QC) were teamed up to dive as a pair at the Canadian Commonwealth Selection Trials. This move has already generated results at the international level as both divers won Canada's first diving medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia. Rinaldi and Barras finished second in the 3M Synchro event with a score of 273.72, behind the Australians who scored 296.07 and ahead of an English pair who obtained 270.63 points.
The decision to unite the two divers was made by Nancy Brawley (Saskatoon, SK), Director of National Teams at Diving Canada. Knowing both athletes, she had a gut instinct the duo could perform at a high level in synchro diving. "Both divers have similar styles and are graceful. Their board work is also very similar and they have similar dives," explained Brawley.
Winning a silver medal is quite an achievement since the pair has only diven four times since being united. With Rebecca pursuing her studies at the University of New Mexico and Melanie at the University of Miami, Barras and Rinaldi linked up in Miami for a few days before uniting again in Tasmania in March a few days prior to the Commonwealth Games.
"Being my first international competition, I am very happy with our silver medal and did not expect to finish second in Melbourne when we were asked to form a team prior to the Commonwealth Trials," said Barras. "It would have been easier if we had more time to work together. One area we had to work on was jumping since Melanie jumps higher than me in her dives, and today our jumps were right on." Melanie, who represented Canada at the 2002 Commonwealth Games as well as the 2005 World Aquatic Championships, attributes their early success to their capacity to relax. "Our goal was to loosen up since we both dive well when we are relaxed. I am surprised by our silver since we did not know how we would since we came into this competition very unprepared. Since we do not have much experience together, our goal was to focus on the synchro portion of our dives. To succeed as a synchro pair, you must like to be around people. I enjoy diving with Rebecca since she has a great attitude."
The future of this synchro diving pair seems bright. With more practice they expect to stand out at future competitions such as the 2007 Pan Am Games and the upcoming World Aquatic Championship, also to take place in 2007.
Mélanie Rinaldi will have the opportunity to claim other medals at the Commonwealth Games as she will dive in the 1M event on Friday, March 24, and in the 3M event on Saturday, March 25, whereas Rebecca Barras was competing only in the 3m synchro
Paul de la Riva
Canadian Commonwealth Games Team