Lindenwood’s Olympian

Dale Hart | Lindenlink Contributor

Junior Reem Abdalazeem is something of a rarity here at Lindenwood. She’s a two-time Olympian.

The Synchronized swimmer from Cairo, Egypt competed at both the Summer Olympics in Beijing, 2008 where she helped Egypt gain 8th place in the Team Routine and again in London, 2012 where Egypt placed 7th.

This Pre-Law and marketing student has competed across five continents, visiting Brazil, Russia, England, Japan, and Rome.

Photo by Andrea Lopez
Reem practicing her solo routine in training at the St. Peter’s Rec Plex.

So how on earth did Lindenwood manage to capture such a globetrotting success?

“I decided to come to the United States to compete as it provided the perfect opportunity for me to combine studies with my passion for Synchro” said Reem.

“Lindenwood offered both a financially viable package for me, as well as allowing me to compete for one of the most successful collegiate programs available.”

Reem received one of Lindenwood’s most prestigious sporting awards last year: the Student Achievement Award for sporting excellence outside of school for her participation at the London games. Talking about the award Reem said, “It’s incredible to be recognized amongst the thousands of students that go here,” She added, “I hope that my success can help raise the profile of the Synchro team here at Lindenwood. We have an incredible bunch of girls that deserve as much praise as me.”

Synchro remains one of the most physically and mentally demanding sports, not just at Lindenwood, but across the world. The Lindenwood team trains twice a day Monday – Friday and once on Saturdays. With conditioning added on top, it comes to roughly 23 hours a week of practice, not to mention having to fit their studies around this tough timetable.

Senior and fellow teammate Andrea Lopez Torralvo said, “Sometimes it is so difficult to remain motivated when having to wake up at 4:30 a.m. three times a week,” She added, “the incentive of jumping into a freezing cold pool isn’t really much to strive for.”

The sport itself is also somewhat of a rarity, combining the grueling physical side of most sports with the more artistic nature of something like ballet. Synchro swimmers are required to hold their breath for up to 40 seconds underwater whilst completing a complex and physically demanding routine.

It is this combination of both physical and stylistic demand of the sport that drew Reem in.

“Ever since I was little I watched and admired those swimmers on T.V,” Reem said. “There was a local club in Cairo and my mom took me down one afternoon. Next thing I know, I’m competing in the London Olympics; incredible.”

Fellow teammate Munchies Salazar commented on Reem’s dedication and leadership qualities she brings to the team. “No matter how hard or difficult a time we’re having with a routine, Reem always has a smile on her face.” She added “it’s an incredible lift to the whole team seeing her laidback attitude and takes a great deal of pressure off.”

When asked about her future within the sport Reem said, “I’m a bit uncertain, but wouldn’t throw out the idea of competing at another Olympics, I’m still only 20 years old. I’m still young. The sport is incredibly tough though and I could definitely do with a break.”