There are many novels that feature sports as their main subject, but very few that feature synchronized swimming. While synchro is gaining popularity, it remains an unusual and uncommon sport, having only recently gained admittance to the Olympics in 1984. Warren Firschein is the author of one of the few books written that feature synchronized swimming. In his book, Out of Synch, Firschein’s narrative beautifully illustrates the agonies and ecstasies of the sport.
In Out of Synch, our young protagonist, Katie Phillips, teeters precariously on the edge while juggling her schoolwork, her budding relationship with Winston-a fabulous athlete in his own right, qualifying for the Florida Swimming Age Group Championships race, and finding the time to polish her synchronized swimming routines all at once.
Katie's dreams of competing nationally for synchronized swimming are all but crushed when her precarious balance starts to falter and her family pushes her to quit the synchro team. Katie is left to strive to achieve her dream of competing nationally for synchro without the support of her family, who fail to see synchro as a legitimate sport.
Unfortunately, as Firschein so eloquently illustrates, Katie's family's opinions are representative of a wide majority of spectators and many synchronized swimmers will be able to resonate with Katie's struggle to prove the athleticism and legitimacy of the sport.
This book is fast-paced and action-packed and will keep the reader hooked from the first page to the last. However, Firschein still makes time for the little details that show the beauty and complexity of synchronized swimming.
The novel is innovative in so many ways. Firschein presents many differing perspectives on synchronized swimming, making the book relatable to a wide audience. It features a strong, athletic female protagonist, a characteristic missing in the majority of the sports novel genre. I love that the book included a young boy on the synchro team as well. The general public believes that synchro is a sport for ‘women only,’ but this is not the case. Synchronized swimming is open to both men and women and I hope that male readers will be inspired by this book to try synchro.
Out of Synch will resonate with many audiences and I recommend it to young athletes, parents, and anyone looking to learn more about synchronized swimming. Firschein’s rich character development and hard-driving narrative shows the importance of goal-setting and pushing past obstacles to achieve your dreams. It gives the reader a good look inside the mind of a young athlete and will help parents understand the strength and commitment many young athletes have for their sports.
One can only hope that Warren Firschein will come back with a sequel because there are many synchro stories that have yet to be told!