Denise Shively, a communications professor at Otterbein, is spending her summer with a part-time job.

Denise Shively, a communications professor at Otterbein, is spending her summer with a part-time job.

She fills out paperwork, sets up food and transportation arrangements and generally focuses on the most minute details so her bosses and co-workers don't have to.

It might not sound like a dream job, but in many ways, it's exactly that for Shively. She is the team manager for the United States Synchronized Swimming team, meaning she's less than two weeks from heading to Beijing, China, for the 2008 Summer Olympics.

In the past five years, she has traveled with the national and junior national team to competitions in Russia, Australia, Japan, Brazil and Canada, but this will be her first trip to the Olympics.

"For me, it's really a wonderful opportunity to represent the United States," Shively said. "These athletes are outstanding ambassadors."

In 2003, Shively began working as team manager of the junior national team, and in 2006 she took over that role with the national team, which competes in the Olympics. According to Taylor Payne, media relations director for United States Synchronized Swimming, Shively's excitement about working with the athletes is the reason she fits so well as the team manager.

"(We need) someone that's very detail-oriented dedicated to the sport, and someone that really cares about these athletes," Payne said. "That's kind of the No. 1 thing, putting the athletes first."

At Otterbein, Shively teaches mainly public relations courses in the communications department, and she also serves as program director for the Senior Year Experience. Before working at Otterbein, she had 16 years of professional experience in public relations, where she developed most of the skills that she uses in this role with the national team.

She described that role basically as a "support person," as she will coordinate the logistics of various aspects of the Olympic experience, including travel, food, practice facilities and music for the routines. The team will leave for Beijing on Monday, with the synchronized swimming competition set for Aug. 18-23.

Synchronized swimming has been an Olympic sport since 1984, and the United States has been among the world's best in virtually every competition since then. In all, the United States has won five gold medals, two silvers and two bronzes out of a total of 11 Olympic competitions.

The Olympics have both a team (eight women) competition and a duet competition, with separate medals for each, although the duet competition was taken out in the 1996 games before being reinstated in 2000.

In each competition, the athletes perform two routines, one artistic and one technical.

"My favorite event is the team event because it's so dynamic," Shively said. "These athletes are very powerful athletes, and they display a lot of power in their lifts and throws out of the water. And you can never touch the bottom of the pool, so they're really, really powerful athletes."

Shively grew up a swimmer, but never tried synchronized swimming until she was about the age that most of the current Olympians are now. After having her first child, she joined what she believed to be a synchronized swimming class at the Columbus YWCA, mainly as a way to get back in shape.

It turned out that the class actually was a masters synchronized swimming team.

She worked with the team for the next 10 years or so, and eventually she began coaching a club team called the Columbus Coralinas. Shively still works with the Coralinas, though she is in the process of transitioning in a new coach, Jodi Sutton.

The Coralinas, which are broken up by age group, have around 30 members.

Her oldest daughter, Meredith, competed through high school and into her first year in college, and her middle daughter, Hannah, now a junior at Ohio State, still competes and is on the national team II, essentially one step below the Olympic team.

Hannah could be one of the athletes representing the United States in London in 2012, which would put her in good company.

"The (Olympic team members) are very gracious young women wherever we go, and they seem to really draw a crowd because they are willing to meet people, greet people, sign autographs," Denise said. "For me, this is a real special pleasure."