A national synchronized swimming competition begins this weekend in the Town of Tonawanda, and organizers are striving to showcase more than just the events in the pool.
Almost 1,000 young women representing 25 states will compete Saturday through July 3 in the United States Synchronized Swimming's eSynchro Age Group Championships in the town's Aquatic and Fitness Center. Today is for registration and, for some teams, practice.
Hosting the competition is the Town of Tonawanda Aquettes, which has amassed an army of volunteers to ensure a multidimensional experience for all of the visitors.
"We want to make it exciting for the girls, not just coming and swimming," said Paul Bostaph, president of the Aquettes.
A tent city is going up on the aquatic center's lawn, providing a place for the teams to congregate outside of the pool.
Two separate socials, one for the younger girls and another for older competitors, will be held in the town's senior center. Bus service has been arranged for tours to Niagara Falls, and a concierge desk will be staffed at the aquatic center.
Also scheduled is a cocktail reception for coaches, officials and dignitaries at a lake-front home.
Volunteers are going to man the coaches' and officials' room at the aquatic center and serve as marshals on the pool deck. The national organization provides officials for the competition, "but we run the whole event otherwise," Bostaph said.
Providing the manpower will be families of current and former Aquettes and local senior citizens.
At an April news conference, an official with the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau estimated the competition will bring $1.5 million to $2 million to the region.