Looking for a New Year Challenge?
If you enjoy swimming and dance why not challenge yourself and combine the two by joining your local synchronised swimming team? It’s a sport which is particularly showcased during the summer Olympics and is an entertainment favourite at vintage pool parties.
The First Synchronized Swimmer
Annette Kellerman, also known as the Glass Tank Performer was the first woman to participate in synchronized swimming. Born in Australia, she toured the United States to showcase her talent with water acrobatics. Her shows were so popular that the idea took off as a sport.
Using the Music
Katherine Curtis has the idea of combining the sport with music, creating a more entertaining show. She had her students perform at the Century of Progress Fair in Chicago between 1933 and 1934, where Norman Ross, a past Olympic swimmer who had won gold, coined the name of the sport - synchronized swimming.
The Glamour of Hollywood
Hollywood had a large part to play in the development of synchronized swimming. Ester Williams, a talented and popular actress in the US, can be credited for bringing it to the masses. In her movies, she began performing her own rendition of synchronized swimming known as water ballet. During this time, the sport became more competitive and additional rules were developed by a student of Katherine Curtis, Frank Havlicek.
Into the Olympics
Synchronized swimming is now one of the most popular events in the summer Olympics, first introduced in 1984. A relatively new sport, it is one that gathers the attention of viewers from around the world.
There are very few competitive sports that are made for women only and synchronized swimming is one of them. Alongside rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming is the second only all-women sport in the Olympic Games.
Becoming a Synchronized Swimmer
It’s daunting, but if you’re a fan of swimming and dance then here are a few tips to get you into the sport:
Step 1: Learn how to be comfortable swimming in deep water. Hitting your head off the bottom of the pool is to be avoided!
Step 2: Improving your flexibility is the next step to becoming a synchronized swimmer. Depending on your starting fitness level, it could take years to sufficiently gain enough strength to be as flexible as professional synchronized swimmers.
Step 3: Finding a coach and team. Most countries have an official website where you can find more information. In the UK it is http://www.swimming.org/britishswimming/synchro and there are 5 skill levels you can meet.
Step 4: Gathering the tools is the fun shopping element! Show some restraint and hold off on the sequinned swimsuits until you’re part of a team. Instead invest in the basics: a comfortable sports swimsuit to a swim cap. Your kit bag could include:
- Flip Flops
- Nose Plug
- Ear Plugs
Step 5: Now that you have a professional to help you, the body strength to sustain the activity, and the supplies to keep you safe, you’re ready to start your training. Remember, it may be quite difficult at first but once your body has become accustomed to the activity, it will become easier and easier. As with most sports, regular practice and determination to succeed are vital.
Enjoy your new sport and no doubt we’ll be admiring your amazing prowess at a vintage champagne pool party soon.