All Summer One Sport: Artistic Swimming
Artistic Swimming 1, Walter 0
Artistic swimming, formerly and more commonly known as synchronized swimming, has undergone a bit of a refresh as it has tried to shed its women-only past. With the introduction of the mixed duet event in 2015, they hope to reinvent this sport which is one of two Olympic sports that men are banned from (the other being rhythmic gymnastics).
This duet can be compared to that of figure skating, just swap the ice for water. Watch the video before of the USA team at the world championships.
This was probably the sport that I was most nervous about trying this summer. While I had been in a swimming club growing up, a decade has passed since I was in the water on a regular basis.
I had not stepped in a pool for two years prior to this demonstration, further heightening my fears of embarrassment. This was quickly put aside as soon as I slipped (or splashed) into the pool.
When I first saw the team go through their routine, my first thought was: “There’s no way Samantha Larose, (coach with the Aquabelles) expects me to do that.” Closely followed by: “How do they deal with all the water rushing up their noses from all the flips they do?”
I was then quietly let in on the best-kept secret in the artistic swimming community: nose clips. I just slipped it on, and there I was, flipping around with no water in my nose.
Now that I had my trusty nose clip on, I learned a few basic skills to limit myself from looking like a drowning guinea pig in the pool.
Skill one: treading water. I had a bit of experience with this already from my swim club, but things have since changed. This is the base skill for almost every trick you will perform in the water.
Skill two: sculling. When I first think of artistic swimming, my first thought is, “Wow! Their legs must be so strong!” I have since readjusted my perceptions as my arms were on fire keeping my body up while I was trying to look like Ariel from The Little Mermaid.
Now that I had got my basics down, I embarked on my journey to be ready for the 2024 Olympics in the mixed duet for my hopeful debut (if men are allowed). Strangely enough, the tricks were not as difficult as I thought they would be.
The hardest part was making a conscious effort to hold my core up. I did have some encouragement as whenever I let go I would sink. After a few minutes of training, I was ready to perform (for my instructor at least).
Samantha Larose describes artistic swimming as, “An aquatic sport that combines the power of gymnastics, the endurance of speed swimming and the gracefulness of a ballet dancer all in one sport.”
I could not agree more. After she said this to me, I watch routines through a new lens focused on each aspect of the sport. The flips for gymnastics, length of routine for speed swimming and the twists for ballet.
All things considered, If I asked myself if I would go back and try out artistic swimming, I would say yes. I like pushing my body to new limits and I can’t remember a time when I used certain muscles like I did that practice. Plus, in what other sport can you listen to Beyoncé on full-blast underwater?
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