Ask Angela Imanuel why she chose to pursue synchronized swimming, and she’ll tell you honestly that she didn’t choose it. “My mom forced me into it in sixth grade,” she said.

Imanuel’s mother knew that she preferred sports that combined athleticism with artistry because she’d enjoyed ballet and gymnastics when she was younger. And it turns out that sometimes parents really do know best. “I came to love synchronized swimming,” she said, “both for its own qualities and because of my teammates.”

She described competition season as both “thrilling and stressful,” and added that, “all the effort that goes into choreographing and practicing is worth it when you see the end result.”

And that end result can be extraordinary. Imanuel’s team qualified for the Junior Olympics twice, though COVID restrictions prevented them from traveling the second time. “Competing at the Junior Olympics is much more terrifying than states or regionals,” she said, “but I’m so glad I had the opportunity during my early synchro years.”

As she begins her first semester at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Imanuel knows that, like the rest of her classmates, she has her work cut out for her. She plans to major in computer science in preparation for a career in software engineering or video game programming. Fortunately, her time in the pool taught her a lot about perseverance in the face of a challenge.

She chose to attend RPI because it’s a strong STEM school that offers great academics, a diverse group of students, and preparation for the career she wants to pursue.

As for athletics, she’s thinking of something a little less time-consuming, like the badminton or dance clubs, so that she has time to study. “My years of synchronized swimming may have come to an end,” she said. “I’ll forever be thankful that my mom forced me into the sport.”