Tough under pressure

Rosie Bilszta (Supplied)

Rosie Bilszta competes in a sport that is only fed into our lounge rooms every four years.

The 15-year-old competes in artistic swimming, which is formerly known as synchronised swimming, and recently returned from Greece after competing in the 2023 FINA Youth Artistic Swimming Championships where Australia finished 14th out of 36 teams.

“I was one of 12 selected to represent Australia following a series of training camps,” she said.

“It was an amazing experience, one that I will build on to fulfil my dream of representing Australia at the Olympics.”

Bilszta loved gymnastics, dance and swimming as a young girl growing up in West Footscray but wanted to try something different and fell in love with artistic swimming.

She has an infectious tone and is full of passion for her sport. She said that it’s anything but easy.

“Two girls in the championships had to be saved by pool lifeguards after getting into difficulty completing the routine,” she said.

Like aerial skiers, artistic swimmers do most of their training on land with a typical week consisting of four nights a week.

All of the water routines are practiced on land.

“We are then into the pool for two to three hours of rehearsal and practice,” Bilszta said.

“Once in the water our warmup includes sprint training and then sync based routines called sculling, which is treading water and using your arms to stay afloat making figure eight patterns.”

Bilszta’s strength is her strength with her role in the team to push or lift up the support swimmer with the performer on top of her.

What she doesn’t tell you is for the whole routine her feet cannot touch the bottom of the pool.

“If our feet touch the bottom of the pool we are immediately disqualified,” she said.

“My body strength is required to push others up and out of the water.”

Bilszta is part of a team based at Victoria University run by Anna Nepotacheva.

Bilszta’s success has come off the back of some very hard work and undeniable talent.

In the past two years alone, her team has won state and national titles in the various forms of artistic swimming, including first place in the free routine 13-15 year old state championships earlier this year.

“My aim is to represent Australia at an Olympic Games, whenever that might be,” she said. “The current Australian team consists of team members who range in age from 18 to 25.”

Bilszta currently attends the Maribyrnong Sports Academy where her coaches work hand in hand with strength and conditioning staff at the college to help her develop her performances.

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Peter Howe