Updated: 25/07/2012 10:09 | By pa.press.net

SYNCHRONISED SWIMMING



Synchronised Swimming

Making the right impression and catching the eye of the judges is the difference between triumph and failure in synchronised swimming.

A panel at poolside score competitors on their artistic impression and technical merit, awarding marks out of 10 for choreography, interpretation of music and the manner of presentation as swimmers perform a series of dance-like moves.

The presentation even extends to a swimmer's appearance, with performers wearing colourful and eye-catching costumes and water-resistant make-up to complement their routine and the choice of music.

Such attention to detail has helped to give the sport a reputation for being one of the most glamorous and theatrical on the Olympic schedule.

Synchronised swimming is often described as 'water ballet', as swimmers perform all manner of manoeuvres to music, but while the sport appears graceful, it is also extremely demanding.

Athletes require strength, flexibility and no small amount of stamina, as they spend two-thirds of a routine submerged, where underwater speakers allow them to hear the music.

The sport is one of only two at the Olympic Games competed solely by women - the other being rhythmic gymnastics - although it appears that synchronised swimming was actually first performed by German men in the 1890s.

During the early part of the 20th century, the likes of Australian Annette Kellerman and American Katherine Curtis helped to develop the art as water ballet and the first competitions were staged in the 1930s.

However, it was not until Los Angeles 1984 that the sport first appeared at the Olympics, with solo and duet events being staged.

In its current format, swimmers perform two routines to music in both the duet and in an eight-woman team event.

The 'technical' routine requires swimmers to perform a set of predetermined moves, while in the 'free' swimmers are allowed to choreograph their own routine.

Judges award scores based on choreography, difficulty and execution and the pairing or team with the most points after the two routines wins the gold.

Russia have been the standout nation in the event over the years, and were crowned champions in both the team and the duet event at Beijing 2008.

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