Gymnastics is a sport that demands time, dedication, and overall physical fitness. Most gymnasts begin at a young age, just like Ames High junior Nitya Ramaswami, who joined a recreational gymnastics program at age three. “I was always flipping around the house, and I was very flexible,” Ramaswami said. “After I was in the recreational program for a year, I joined a gymnastics club when I was four.” From that point on, gymnastics became an intricate part of her life and continues to be a huge part of her life. “Gymnastics takes up about 23 hours of my life a week,” Ramaswami said. “I practice in Ankeny so I go straight to practice after school at 3:30 and return home at 9:30 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.” During competition season, the hours increase and the practices become more intense. “During practice, we begin with a warm-up,” Ramaswami said. “After that, we run, stretch, and practice our events and routines. We also work on increasing our endurance and condition.” The four different events in gymnastics consist of bars, vault, floor, and beam. In competition, gymnasts perform routines in all four events and receive a composite all around score based on scores for the individual events. “The beam is my favorite event because it is challenging,” Ramaswami said. “The beam demands mental strength instead of just physical strength. Also, it is my best event.” Nitya will be competing in the beam and the rest of her events on May 17 when she will be competing at Nationals. In order to qualify for Nationals, one must place in the top seven at regionals. “I qualified for Nationals by placing fourth all around at Regionals,” Ramaswami said. “I am very excited to compete at Nationals because the competitors are from the whole country. My goal for Nationals is to receive a scholarship because I would like to be a gymnast on a college team.” The training for Nationals is surprisingly not any different from training during the regular season except it is more particular. “In practice, I am trying to perfect my routines so I work for quality instead of quantity,” Ramaswami said. If a competitor finishes high enough in Nationals, the competitor has the option to continue on to the Olympics, but Nitya said that wouldn’t happen with her because she was on the path to receive a scholarship. After college, Nitya doubts she will continue competing in gymnastics but will walk away with valuable lessons and memories. “The number one thing I will take away is time management skills,” Ramaswami said. “I will also take away dedication because the sport is so demanding.”