Mother and entrepreneur sets up artistic swimming academy to grow sport in Jordan

Oceana 4
(Photos: Handouts from Narjes Hijazi)
AMMAN – Faced with an absence of academies that teach artistic swimming, Narjes Hijazi, Jordanian mother of three girls, two of whom are Jordan’s first artistic/synchronized swimmers, decided to set up her own artistic swimming academy dubbed Oceana.اضافة اعلان

Narjes Hijazi (center). (Photo: Handout from Narjes Hijazi)

Hijazi, a self-made entrepreneur, set up Oceana in Abu Dhabi in 2019 for the sake of her two oldest daughters who are both artistic swimmers.

Artistic swimming, also known as synchronized swimming, is a sport in which swimmers perform detailed and coordinated routines in the water, mixing in dance and gymnastics.

Hijazi regularly traveled back and forth between Abu Dhabi and Greece to take her two daughters, Yasmina and Raihanna, for training. Their coaches saw incredible potential in the girls, their mother said, but noted that they needed consistent professional training to hone and strengthen their skills.

(Photos: Handouts from Narjes Hijazi)

"It wasn't easy to register them as a national team in Jordan while training in another country. We had to sign documents saying that we would take care of all travel and training expenses," Narjes Hijazi, said in an interview with Jordan News.

She found herself caught between a rock and a hard place when she realized that there were no artistic swimming associations or clubs in Jordan, even though the girls would be registered as Jordanians during competitions.

(Photos: Handouts from Narjes Hijazi)

Hijazi’s oldest daughter Yasmina took up the sport when she was only eight years old and holds the title as the first Jordanian artistic swimmer in the world, while her younger sister, who took up the sport at only four years old, is the second.

"Their dream is to have more Jordanians in the national team, so that they may be able to perform as a team in national and hopefully international competitions in the future." Hijazi said.

As there are no associations for the sport in Jordan, the girls could not compete in group competitions as Jordanians. As a result, they could only compete in solo competitions under their national flag.

The young swimmers, however, did not let the setback affect them. Yasmina represented her country for the very first time in 2019 in the Artistic Swimming Comen Cup in Geneva Switzerland where she was also the only Arab to compete. In the same year, she competed at the Azerbaijan International competition where she came in fourth. Raihanna, her younger sister, also took part in the competition and came second. They also excelled at national competitions in the UAE.

(Photos: Handouts from Narjes Hijazi)

"Officially, the girls are in the national team of Jordan but they are representing Jordan in solos, as there are no other Jordanians in order to perform as a team,” their mother said. “We are taking care of everything in terms of training, training costs, air tickets and other travel costs."

The academy started with just three girls, this number steadily grew to over 40 students. "The girls are from all nationalities from all around the world and from different age groups, and we make sure we offer the best quality of training for them and other girls in the UAE. Every girl at Oceana is like a daughter to me,” Hijazi said.

The lack of financial support and media coverage for the sport in Jordan is a disappointment to Hijazi, but she hopes that the girls' successes will help create future awareness around the sport.

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