The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

China’s National Synchronized Swimmer Giselle Lu Makes ‘Figures’ in Irvine

Eight years ago in China, junior Giselle Lu watched China’s national synchronized swimming team on the local news. After being inspired by their graceful and fluid yet rapid and calculated movements, Lu has now been competing in competitive synchronized swimming for eight years and has won two national championships before moving to Irvine. Despite this move, her passion for synchronized swimming remains undimmed by distance. 

“I was really impressed by how beautiful it looked,” Lu said. “I asked my mom if she could bring me to those places where they taught synchronized swimming, and that’s kind of where I started.”

Prior to synchronized swimming, Lu’s athletic background consisted of track and field when she was in elementary school. But at the age of 12, Lu faced an unexpected obstacle: she had an extra bone in her ankle. Lu made the pivotal decision to step away from track and field, redirecting her focus to synchronized swimming, which posed a lower impact on her ankle. 

I feel like synchronized swimming has helped me discover the feminine power. We’re beautiful. We’re flexible. We’re flexing our legs, but at the same time we’re using a lot of muscle strength trying to push ourselves out of the water.

— Giselle Lu

During this time, Lu met her swimming team for the National Championships. Excelling at local and state competitions, the culmination of their efforts rose as eight-hour practice sessions on top of dance and swim lessons in preparation flooded their schedules. But Lu still felt immense pressure prior to entering the water.

“I feel like it is really nerve-wracking because in synchronized swimming, you can mess up something really easily, especially for lifts,” Lu said. “If someone just slips, the whole thing is over. So I feel like I always get really stressed out. But as a team, we always cheer, and I feel like that’s the reassurance that everything will be alright.”

Throughout her extensive synchronized swimming journey, Lu’s resilience allowed her to overcome challenges, finding gratification in witnessing the results of her dedication. In addition to her achievements at the National Championships, she gained invaluable lessons and lifelong relationships.

“I feel like synchronized swimming has helped me discover the feminine power,” Lu said. “We’re beautiful. We’re flexible. We’re flexing our legs, but at the same time we’re using a lot of muscle strength trying to push ourselves out of the water… I feel like it is a really special bond between me and my teammates because we grew up together and we just went through so many successes and failures, but I just feel like the bond is really different.” 

While Lu is no longer as involved in synchronized swimming as she was in China, her enthusiasm for the sport endures. Over the summer, she competed in the Macau Championships with her duet partner, The York School’s junior Lucia Lu, and she is currently in water polo at Portola High. Moreover, Lu hopes to introduce more people to synchronized swimming, as it is a lesser-known sport.

“If people at Portola High are actually interested, I really want to create a club or just gather a lot of people,” Lu said. “If they want to learn synchronized swimming, I’ll be really willing to do that and teach them synchronized swimming because I just think it is a really beautiful sport.”

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About the Contributors
Kayleen Kim, Managing Editor
Kayleen Kim is the managing editor for her third and final year on the Portola Pilot. This year, she'll aim to make her final interactions with the team special by tackling the complicated challenges of Wordpress and consistently bothering staff about their deadlines. She enjoys podcasting, coming up with fresh lines for her novel, practicing the cello, and giving her dog, Tofu <3, plenty of kisses when she's not quietly dancing to Jam Republic’s or Bada Lee’s choreographies at 3 a.m.
Kelly Yeh, Staff Writer
Kelly Yeh is a staff writer for her first year on the Portola Pilot. This year, she is thrilled to share inspiring and captivating stories with her fellow Bulldogs through her work. When she is not busy stressing over school deadlines or annoying her dog, you can find her obsessing over new shows, adding to her Spotify playlists, or finding new cafes to study at with friends.
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