|I'm hoping to look this graceful|
Work are doing an Olympics Challenge, where each member of the team has a shot at one of the 2012 Olympic sports in the hope to get them all done by the opening ceremony.
Don't ask what came over me, or why I did it, but I did... I stupidly agreed to have a splash at synchronised swimming. There are a few problems with this...
A) Bathing suit
B) I hate getting water in my ears, eyes and nose
C) I'm not a strong swimmer
D) I am not flexible and cannot do a handstand
E) ... BATHING SUIT!
To try and take my mind off the technicalities (and water up nose scenario) I thought I'd do a bit of research into the sport, and have found it's origins are rather interesting, with a very vintage link. Here are some interesting facts, swimming in a figure of 8...
1) Initially, synchronized swimming was known as water ballet, with the first competition held in 1891 in Berlin. From here the sport became increasingly popular and continued to develop, competitions in those days were undertaken in lakes and rivers, so you'd be keeping time with the fishes as well!
2) It didn't only have a sport format... During the 1900s larger Music Halls featured synchronised swimming in their programmes, using specially equipped on-stage tanks!
3) Originally a Gentleman's sport, Ladies soon adopted the pastime as the nature of the physical movements are more suited to the female physique (it's something to do with the centre of gravity.)
4) By 1907, the sport was growing in popularity, helped by Annette Kellerman, an Australian water ballerina who performed in a glass tank at the New York Hippodrome.
5) Another pivotal water Goddess was Katherine Curtis who experimented various diving actions and stunts and started one of the first water ballet clubs at the University of Chicago, where the team soon began executing strokes, tricks and floating formations.
6) Between 1933-1934, Kathrine Curtis then organised a show called "The Modern Mermaids", for the World Exhibition in Chicago. The announcer introduced as "Synchronised Swimming". This was the first mention of the term, although Curtis still used the term rhythmic swimming in her book, 'Rhythmic Swimming: A Source Book of Synchronized Swimming and Water Pageantry' (quite a mouthful!)
7) It was Hollywood, and the champion swimmer Esther Williams, who popularised the sport through elaborately staged scenes in Hollywood films such as 'Bathing Beauty' (1944), 'Million Dollar Mermaid' (1952), and 'Jupiter's Darling' (1955). Even Miss Piggy had a go in the film 'The Great Muppet Caper' (1981).
8) It took sometime for the sport to officially enter the Olympics, despite the first demonstration being in the 1952 Olympic Games, it did not become an official Olympic sport until the 1984 Summer Olympic Games.
Today I take the plunge and have my lesson, all of which shall be recorded for general public scrutiny/mockery. If you don't hear from me after today, you know that I have...
A) Died of shame
But I hope neither will happen... wish me luck!