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Mary Killman Goes for Gold in Synchro

Mary Killman hopes to go for gold in duet and team synchronized swimming

By Brian Curtis and Elvira Sakmari
|  Friday, May 11, 2012  |  Updated 2:17 PM CDT
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Mary Killman's synchronized swimming career began in Irving, but years later it could take her to the Olympic stage in London.

Brian Curtis, NBC 5 News

Mary Killman's synchronized swimming career began in Irving, but years later it could take her to the Olympic stage in London.

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Synchonized swimming may be one of the most demanding sports you’ll see at the 2012 London Olympic Summer Games.

Mary Killman's synchronized swimming career started in at Northlake Natatorium in Irving.

She started out as a competitive swimmer, she moved to synchronized swimming because of her best friend Claire Evans, her first duet partner.

"I actually introduced her to the sport," said Evans. "I used to beat Mary when we were little, our first year, and then she went zoom… and went to the top."

Megan Deatherage, coach of The Pirouettes of Texas, saw something special in Killman early on.

"She was very gifted at a young age, [she] just had a lot of things where you look at them and you can just tell," said Deatherage. "I mean, she was one of those kids that just worked and worked and worked and worked."

While her mother still sews swim costumes for the Pirouettes, at age 12 Killman and her family left North Texas for California just so she could train at the elite level with the Santa Clara Aquamaids.

National team coach Mayu Fujiki says Killman is a rare find.

"She was born with it," said Fujiki. "It's nothing that she learned or she trained, she has it in her body since she was born."

For more than a year Killman has been training at the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis, in hopes of Olympic gold in London.

Six to eight hours a day, six days a week the team trains. The routine is grueling, with training both in and out of the water.

"I always try to make people understand, sprinting 400 meters on land, holding your breath and completely synchronized with 7 other people around you, changing the pattern and smiling, that's how it is," said Fujiki.

The routines are done in 17 feet of water where touching the bottom is not an option and making the routines look effortless is the goal.

"It's a very artistic sport but it takes so much endurance, so much athleticism to make it look the way you need it to," said Killman. "The easier we make it look, the better we are at it."

Killman competes in duet with Maria Koroleva.

This summer she hopes to realize a dream she's had for as long as she can remember.

"It's kind of surreal. You always, as a little kid, start 'I wanted to go to the Olympics,'" said Killman. "I can imagine all I want, but until I'm actually there, it’s probably not going to fully sink in."

At age 21, Killman is the youngest member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Selection Team.

More: Mary Killman on Facebook

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