I Want to be a Synchronized Swimmer

1955.18.16
Swimmer, by John La Farge, 1866. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

My favorite Olympic sports have always been the ones with an element of art to them, like gymnastics and figure skating. Today, a new love has been kindled, one that is possibly stronger than the love I have for those two sports combined. And that love is for synchronized swimming.

The Olympic women’s duet event took place today, and I watched the whole thing with my mouth open. I could barely peel my eyes away to eat the eggs and pancakes that my mom had made! Prior to today I only had a vague idea of what synchronized swimming was, and I believed that it was really pretty but not necessarily impressive in terms of physical endurance. I don’t even know where that assumption came from, because my only exposure to synchronized swimming was this very short scene from High School Musical 2:

Of course, I didn’t really think that all synchronized swimming was like that movie scene, but every time I thought of what I synchronized swimmer looked like, I imagined retro swimsuits, sunglasses, and flowery swim caps.

Here is a 1950s video that describes some basic moves used by synchronized swimmers. I thought it was really interesting, not only because of the content but also because I love the look of vintage films. Maybe you can try a few of these moves the next time you’re in a pool!

And here is the performance that absolutely blew my mind. Russia’s team has stolen my heart. Technically, it was almost perfect, and it was such a beautiful performance. There wasn’t an option to embed it here, so please make sure to click through to watch.

My opinion of synchronized swimming is completely changed. It takes so much endurance to hold your breath and perform the way they do, and it just looks so damn cool.

Now if only I could swim!

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