Synchronized swim club competes locally, nationally


A group of 16 synchronized swimmers has been heading to swimming pools all year, resulting in a team that swims at the competitive level.

The Starfish Synchro Club, the only competitive synchronized swim club in the state, is headed by Barbara Nelson of Ellicott City. Her daughter Marsea Nelson studied synchronized swimming at the Howard County YMCA in Ellicott City and was so taken with it that she wanted to continue, even after the YMCA coach moved from the area. The Nelsons found classes and pool time at Fairland Aquatics Center in Laurel, one thing led to another and a team was formed, with Barbara Nelson as the manager. Ginny Chadwick, Diane Smith, Ann Foster and Danielle Von Zinderan coach the girls.

This spring, the girls competed locally and qualified for the national competition in Orlando, Fla. Wearing sequined swimsuits and sparkling headpieces, the girls competed from June 24 to July 2 against teams from areas across the country.

It was the team's second year of competition. Local swimmers who went to the nationals included Marsea Nelson, Lyndsay Phillips, Elizabeth Peeples, Lauren Beckmeyer, Melanie Adams, Kristina Yoder, Melissa Hensley and Clarissa Grewe.

Swimmers who competed locally but did not travel to Florida included Kai Jones, Vercera Harvey-White, Kristin Zwobot, Caroline Schuster, Jennifer Milich and Katie Abney.

Introductory synchronized swimming classes are offered at the Fairland Aquatics Center from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays. The team is working with the Wilde Lake Swim Center to begin offering classes later in the summer.

If you would like information on the team or these classes, call Ms. Nelson at 964-0868.


In last week's piece on Centennial High School's graduation, I neglected to note that Amy Couchoud was co-winner of the Nancy Freimanis Award with Nischom Silverman. Sorry, Amy. I really didn't mean to leave you out.

The two girls earned the award when they worked as student aides for the school's English department last year. Nancy Freimanis, a teacher aide, worked with them.

"Amy would come home from school and tell me how wonderful Nancy Freimanis was," reports Amy's mother Betty Couchoud.

"She talked a great deal about their fun times together, and it was November before I learned that Nancy Freimanis was ill with Lou Gehrig's disease, and was wheelchair-bound."

Nancy Freimanis died in December from the disease.

When Ms. Freimanis' children decided to initiate an award, they based it on character. It was because of the services and relationship with her that Nischom and Amy won the award.


Shopkeepers in Ellicott City, the "mall alternative," welcome you to visit them at the midsummer "Midnight Madness," a repetition of the popular event that takes place during each Christmas season.

The July 14 to 16 sales event will be paired with a fund-raiser for Grant-A-Wish Foundation, which will hold a raffle in town.

On July 14, Midnight Madness will focus on a "Wizard of Oz" theme, when shoppers can walk with Dorothy as she follows the brick road. The evening will feature shopping until midnight, live entertainment and music in the pocket parks and dining in Main Street restaurants.

The theme, "There's No Place Like Ellicott City," will be echoed by costumed characters in town.


When Ric Ryder, a graduate of Centennial High School's class of 1978, was asked to be keynote speaker at the school's graduation ceremony, his mother told him he was fortunate to speak at a graduation when he still had all his teeth, the same color hair and could walk without a cane. So reports his mother, Ann Ryder, who for years has headed Howard County's Public Information Office.

Mr. Ryder had recently completed a two-year stint in the Broadway show "Blood Brothers" and returned to Ellicott City several days before the graduation to spend time with the graduating seniors, and was pleased with the students whom he met.

For the ceremony, he chose to sing a musical selection from an unreleased Disney film. After the graduation ceremony, he began rehearsing for a new national tour of the show "Grease," in which he plays the character Doodie. The show opened Wednesday in Hawaii.

The production will tour the northwestern United States and major cities in Canada.

"Acting is all he ever wanted to do," Ms. Ryder said. "He wanted to act since he was 5 years old, and was fortunate that he could make his dreams come true."


Many congratulations to Joan Dykstra of Ellicott City, who was just elected president of the national Parent-Teacher Association. She was elected first vice president in 1993.

Ms. Dykstra got her start in Howard County, and we hometown folk want her to know that we're proud of her.


Howard County Library's Children's Department will present the program "Use Your Noodle," a program of stories and a craft, at Miller Branch Library. The program is scheduled to take place from 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. July 13 and 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. July 15.

Registration for the program begins Thursday and may be done in person or by phone at 313-1955.


"Drop-In Bedtime Storytimes," for children ages 3 to 5, will be offered at the Miller and Elkridge libraries this month.

The story time will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at Miller Branch Library. At the Elkridge Branch, it will be held from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. July 17. Registration is not required for these drop-in programs, and children may attend in their pajamas.


Tomorrow, county offices, courts, libraries and the landfill will be closed for Independence Day. Emergency services will operate 24 hours a day. Trash and recycling services will not be in effect, but Tuesday's trash will be collected Wednesday.

Recycling routes will be serviced July 11.

Elkridge and Ellicott City have no regularly scheduled, public Independence Day celebrations, though various neighborhoods will have small parades and burning of sparklers as dusk closes in.

Other families go to Catonsville High School, where they sit on the hill and watch the fireworks, or join the crowd commuting down Route 29 to the Columbia fireworks.

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