Junior Rachel Lau named Swim Outlet Swimmer of the Month


Amanda Chan

Co-written by Akshara Majjiga

The first time junior Rachel Lau got into the pool, she was just learning to use her arms and legs. Since swimming runs in her family, Lau began learning to swim as a baby.

“My grandpa used to be a national swim coach in China,” Lau said. “I was a water baby. So basically my whole life, I’ve been in the pool.”

Even though Lau has been swimming for almost all of her life, it wasn’t until six years ago that she started synchronized swimming. She saw a flier for a water show that her current club hosts and from there, the music and routines of synchro caught her attention. She was immensely inspired by the girls who performed and made a decision to try the sport after the show. Over the years, Lau honed her skills through hours and hours of practice — as of now, she trains six hours a day on weekdays and when the school year ends, training intensifies to nine hours a day. The hard work and time Lau put into the sport paid off as she was recently named the SwimOutlet.com March Swimmer of the Month by USA Synchronized Swimming.

“I was kind of surprised, because all of the people I know who have won swimmer of the month — they’re kind of lesser known,” Lau said. “They were more of swimmers from around the nation who may not have done a big part of synchro, but they have to balance synchro and school.”

Rachel Lau Synchro

Photos used with permission of Rachel Lau

Lau swims with the USA Synchro National Team, which she has tried out for and made for three years. They begin training in April and from then until July, training with the National team becomes a large part of Lau’s schedule. To make time for training, she leaves school every day at lunchtime and practices for six or seven hours. The rigor of her three to four month long National team season culminates in one final competition — Junior World Championships in Kazan, Russia over the summer.  

“You really focus on going to that one competition,” Lau said. “We don’t have games or championships every weekend and it’s like once a month or twice a month and you have one really big competition that you shoot for and that’s it. After that, your season’s over.”

For Lau, this intense training schedule has been particularly difficult. As one of the few members of her team who attends school for most of the day, rather than just taking a few classes, Lau has to manage her classes on top of her training. Without support and consideration from her teachers, Lau wouldn’t be able to balance her activities on top of her schoolwork.

As a flier for her team, Lau is used to being on the top of her pyramid. She feels that extra pressure to perform to the best of her ability since she carries the weight of every mistake made by her team.

“Everybody has school and synchro and in the middle of the season, especially when we train a lot more. It gets really tiring and you’re sleeping two or three hours a night which is not healthy,” Lau said. “You’re cranky every day, you still have to go to practice, and go to school and get good grades, and all that builds up.”

Since then, despite the bumps, bruises and disappointments, Lau’s passion for synchro has not faltered.

“I think I’m pretty clean. Unless it’s like bruises and cuts and scrapes but that’s everybody,” Lau said. “Swimming’s been pretty good to me so far.”

Lau’s club team is hosting a free exhibition on May 30th at the Santa Clara International Swim Center.