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In Sync With Choice

Jenn Holmquist is glad she picked UIW over a chance at Olympics

A Canadian living in San Antonio and attending Incarnate Word probably should feel like a fish out of water.

Not Jenn Holmquist. She came to San Antonio for the water. In fact, Holmquist may be more at home in the water than anyone in town. She was born in Calgary, Alberta, but came to San Antonio to attend UIW and compete on the Cardinals’ synchronized swimming team.

“I really liked the school and San Antonio in general,” the 21-year-old said. “I talked to the coach and I thought the program here had the potential to be really elite.”

At the 2003 U.S National Collegiate Championships, during Holmquist’s first year at UIW, the Cardinals placed sixth. This past season they improved to fifth. Holmquist competed at a high level, finishing eighth in duet and eighth in trio.

Coach Kim Wurzel-LoPorto, a 2000 U.S Olympian, said Holmquist deserves much of the credit for the Cardinals’ success.

“Jenn is definitely overall my strongest team member,” Wurzel-LoPorto said. “The whole team looks up to her. She is a natural leader.”

Holmquist began her career 15 years ago after her mother read an article about the sport. She won a bronze medal at the 1999 French Open, held in Arles, France and lists several Canadian Olympians as former teammates or opponents.

Four years ago, Holmquist was faced with a difficult decision. Move to Quebec, where most of Canada’s top Olympic synchro swimmers train, or fulfill a long-time desire to attend college in the United States.

In Quebec, she could train fulltime, but would have little time for college.

"This just turned out to be a great opportunity to pursue both school and swimming and do it at an age where I'm still getting the college experience."

But by attending college, Holmquist would be subject to NCAA regulations that would cut her practice time in half, diminishing her Olympic chances.

Ultimately, Holmquist opted for college and signed with Alabama-Birmingham. She left after one year and moved to San Antonio in 2002.

“I’d always wanted to go away for school and with swimming (in Canada) I wasn’t really going to be able to go to school,” Holmquist said. “This just turned out to be a great opportunity to pursue both school and swimming and do it at an age where I’m still getting the college experience.”

The arrival of the Olympics this summer left Holmquist curious about what might have been. One of her close friends from home, Shayna Nackoney, was on the Canadian team.

“There is a little bit of envy there. Just watching the Olympics you totally get that feeling inside you where you wish you were there,” Holmquist said. “My goals have kind of shifted. I hope to start a career when I am done swimming.”

Synchronized swimming has afforded Holmquist the opportunity to travel, experience different cultures and meet new people. In doing so, she has developed a greater appreciation for her sport as well as interests beyond athletics.

“I never would have imagined the opportunities synchronized swimming has given me, opportunities I may not have had otherwise,” said Holmquist, a business marketing major.