The SMS gym classes are starting swimming lessons, and Jessi's pretty excited about that. Her family just decided to get a membership to the community pool, and Jessi wants a chance to practice before summer really gets going. Mallory, on the other hand, isn't so excited; she embarrassed about her ugly swimsuit, and the fact that the BOYS will be sharing the pool with the girls during class. From Mal's (very negative) perspective, the only good thing about swimming during class is that they'll take up class time walking to and from the pool.
During the first swim class, Ms. Walden gives each girl a test to gauge her skills. Jessi is a little nervous, since she's not exactly an expert. She gets through the test okay, but when she sees Ms. Walden and anoter woman talking as they watch her swim, Jessi is sure she's going to be stuck in some remedial class. Ms. Walden asks her to stay after class, and introduces her to Ms. Cox. Ms. Cox runs a team of synchronized swimmers, and thought that Jessi might be a good fit. At her first lesson, she's paired up with Elise Coates. Elise shows her all the basics of synchro, and it becomes clear why Ms. Cox teamed them up: Jessi has a lot of style and grace, thanks to her dance training, but no strength. Elise is a very strong swimmer (she's on the SMS swim team), but she has no presentation. At the end of the class, Ms. Cox drops a bomb on the girls: they'll be competing in the upcoming SMS Sports Festival! There will be a group routine, but each pair will also need to come up with an individual routine as well. Jessi isn't sure that she and Elise will be ready in time, but over the next month and a half, they practice constantly. Jessi was asked to choreograph their pairs routine, since she's got dance experience, but it's proving to be a challenge. Even as late as the day before the competition, they still don't feel as if they have it down.
The day of the SMS Sports Festival arrives, and Jessi is nervous. In fact, she has the majority of the day to be nervous, since the swimming events are held last. At least she has other BSC members to cheer for to take her mind off things: Claudia enters a backwards race, Dawn throws the javelin, Kristy runs in the 100 meter race, and she goes head-to-head with Alan Gray in an obstacle course race. They'd placed a bet on the outcome: whoever lost had to be the winner's personal slave for a week. Kristy wins. :)
Finally, finally, finally....it's swimming time. The group routine goes well, and it seems to impress the audience. When it's Jessi and Elise's turn to perform, they do their best. To Jessi, it doesn't seem quite real that it's over, after all the work they put into it. Then, it's time for the medals to be announced. I know this is going to come as a big surprise, but guess who wins the gold in synchronized swimming? Yep...Jessi and Elise. They're thrilled, but both decide in the end to quit synchro. They each felt they were putting too much work into it, and not getting enough fun out of it. Jessi wasn't up to par in her ballet class, and Elise wasn't doing as well as normal with her regular swimming stuff.
The Summer Olympics are also going on at this point, which is interesting, considering the fact that it's only supposed to be late spring. Jessi gets the idea to hold a Mini Olympics for the kids they sit for. They end up being pretty fun, and (of course) every kid wins some kind of prize.
Thoughts and Things
- I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book this time around! I had it stuck in my head that I DIDN'T like it much, which is usually true with the sports oriented books.
- So...Janet Gates is in the backwards race with Claudia. She was one of the 8th graders that the BSC recruited for the club in #3, when they were in 7th grade. Guess she was held back....
- Mal actually sprains her ankle to get out of participating in the SMS Sports Festival. She hadn't intended to actually injure herself; she only planned on faking it. Still, she took a risk. What if she'd broken the ankle instead? Besides...participation in the Festival was voluntary. I don't get why Mal was so afraid to just speak up and say she didn't want to do it, even though all her friends were. She certainly didn't have trouble speaking up about the Little Miss Stoneybrook pageant.
- Speaking of Mal, she's awfully negative about gym class in this one; more so than we've ever seen before. Foreshadowing to #59, maybe?
- I really like Elise and her chemistry with Jessi. I wish they'd maintained a friendship outside of this book.
- Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey's main reason for not wanting Jessi to take riding lessons was the amount of time she'd have to spend on them. Ummmm, she spent FAR more time swimming in this book, and they didn't care.