In 2014, Signe Harriday was in Cleveland watching the Gay Games, and was inspired to give it a try. After some convincing – and realizing that the next Gay Games were in Paris – she and friend Suzy Messerole started perusing the Games’ website for a potential sport, and so the Subversive Sirens synchronized swimming team was born.
The duo picked synchronized swimming because they each had at least some background in the sport – rather the water. They quickly realized that it was harder than it appeared, and went to the Northern Pikes – a masters synchro team – for help. Harriday and Messerole started practicing and posting videos of their progress, and attracting other members.
In their debut at the 2018 Gay Games, the Sirens won a gold medal for their free combo routine as a full team, and Harriday and Messerole won a silver medal for their duet performance. Their routine for the 2019 IGLA Championships in New York City honored transgender activist Sylvia Rivera and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. They again won gold for their free combo, and Harriday and Messerole won silver for their duet.
The team now has six full-time members; a competitive synchro team committed to Black Liberation, equity in aquatic sports, body positivity in athleticism, and queer visibility. The growth of the team from two to five to six members allowed for more rigorous practices and clarity of language and praxis around their values. Liberation is at the heart of everything they do, and the team works to spread their message in the water, their activism, and through social media.
As well as training and competing, the Sirens are a team on a mission to spread the joy of synchronized swimming as a liberation practice. They host Splashes to invite community members to try synchro with the team in a welcoming environment, and they continually try to create opportunities for everyone to engage with and experience synchro in this healing way.
We continue to host community events in and out of the pool.
Our next major competition is the 2021 IGLA (International LGBTQ+ Aquatics) Championships in Utah.