This summer the British Olympic synchronized swim team is striving for gold. They are hoping to sweep up medals with routines are very physically challenging and graceful and expressive at the same time.
It is late morning on a Tuesday in January and I am poolside at the Garrison Sports Centre in Aldershot which, as well as providing sporting facilities for the Army, has been the home of Great Britain’s elite synchronised swimming squad since 2007.
Thirteen pairs of flip-flops, 13 sports bottles and the odd muesli-filled Tupperware box line the water’s edge.
Suddenly in front of me two rows of swimming-capped heads and blue-costumed torsos burst through the surface of the water and plummet down again, one after the other. Their linked hands shoot into the air as a wave of movement passes through the group.
A second later, all you can see above the water are two rows of perfectly extended legs overlapping and scissoring. Then each swimmer’s legs trace an arc in the air, the group making a movement like the closing of a fan.
The effect is magical and – for an Olympic sport – frankly rather odd, not least because the girls’ faces are split by identical… continue reading
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