Jennifer Jarboe, ’13, has spent much of her life in the pool. She competed as a speed swimmer before joining a synchronized swimming team in seventh grade. When the time came for her to choose a college, Jarboe was also making a choice about her future with the sport that shaped the person is.

“I was trying to decide if I wanted to do synchro in college,” she says. “I decided varsity is where you go when you really want to go to the Olympics or devote your college career to synchro.”

But that wasn’t what Jarboe had in mind. “I needed to focus on school work and have some kind of plan for my future,” she says. “But I didn’t want to drop off synchro completely, because I love doing it.”

At one of the national championships where her Cincinnati-based team took home the title, Jarboe learned about the University of Richmond’s synchronized swimming club — not a light commitment, demanding more than 10 practice hours a week, but one that would allow her to join a sorority and excel in the classroom while still competing at the national level.

And excelling in the classroom is nothing new to Jarboe. She came to Richmond on a full-tuition award as a Boatwright Scholar, one of the University's top academic distinctions.

When she joined the synchronized swimming club her first semester, Jarboe became part of a long tradition at Richmond. For 20 years, in the 1980s and '90s, it was a varsity sport, and in 1988 the team took home second place at the U.S. Collegiate Championships.

Today, alumnae still come out to root for the club team during its annual home meet versus Ohio State, the reigning national champion at the varsity level, whose team includes several future Olympians. “All the alumnae get together on the deck and everyone does the Spider synchro cheer,” says Jarboe.

As co-captain, Jarboe oversees many of the administrative aspects of the club, but she also shares responsibility for choreography. The team’s four members have prepared a trio, a duet, and two solos for this season. At the first meet of the season, their soloists took first and second place. Jarboe is hoping to repeat her personal success of last season — she placed among the top 12 soloists at nationals — but she’s also focused on a successful showing for the whole team.

“Jenny is an incredibly talented swimmer — she was our first soloist to make it to finals at the national championship in nearly a decade,” says head coach Asha Bandal, ’04, who has coached the team for the past seven years and was named the U.S. Synchronized Swimming Collegiate Athlete of the Year when she swam at UR. “All of our swimmers are extremely motivated to do as well as they possibly can. I think we have great potential to do well at the national championship in mid-March.”

As she had hoped when she first chose Richmond, Jarboe has been able to strike a balance among synchronized swimming, her studies, and her social life. She is planning to major in biochemistry, with a minor in mathematics, and holds leadership positions within Delta Gamma sorority and the orientation advisors program. As Bandal says, synchronized swimmers “learn about time management and dedication at an early age.”

“Synchro is one of those things where you really have to like the sport because it does take up a lot of time and mental energy,” says Jarboe. “You have to be very driven to succeed and do your absolute best, but it’s something good to focus on besides school. It’s a good outlet.”