Synchronised Swimming guide - London 2012 Olympics

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Your complete guide to synchronised swimming ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

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Converted:  Athletes combine grace, artistry and an ability to stay underwater for ages to create London 2012’s literally most breathtaking spectacle.

Confused: Bizarre aquatic clown show with grins so forced they’d make even Gordon Brown cringe.

Synchronised Swimming - The essential guide

© Getty Images

Street cred: A girl-only, somewhat niche event with unmistakably balletic roots. It’s not trendy yet but it could capture the public's imagination if Britain's glamorous entrants do well.

Who’s good? Russia has won every Olympic gold medal since 2000.

Glory-hunting potential: Britain has never won an Olympic synchro medal although talented duet Jenna Randall and Olivia Allison have an outside chance of breaking that duck.

The basics: Teams consist of two or eight swimmers. They perform a timed routine to music with their performances marked by a panel of 10 judges.

Athlete to watch: Anyone Russian, particularly the team’s 21-year-old rising star Svetlana Romashina.

Not to be confused with: Drowning.

Almost useless fact: In February 2011 a Chinese magician stunned a TV audience of millions, and upset animal rights groups, when he apparently taught six goldfish to do synchronised swimming as part of his act.

As seen in: The work of Esther Williams, the US swimming sensation turned MGM movie star whose films often included elaborate synchro routines – most famously in ‘Million Dollar Mermaid’ (1952) and ‘Jupiter’s Darling’ (1955). John Travolta later employed a similar strategy with disco dancing.

Do say: ‘This is where sport meets art.'

Don't say: ‘I’ve been to nightclubs in Romford where the girls wear less make-up than that.’

British Olympic hopeful - Jenna Randall

© SWPix.com

What would your advice be to someone taking up your career?

Make sure you enjoy what you’re doing and focus on why you wanted to start it in the first place.

If the monarchy suddenly disbanded, which song would you want played at your gold-medal ceremony instead of the national anthem?

A hymn – maybe ‘Jerusalem’. I used to sing that quite a lot at school and it made me feel proud to be British.

What's your favourite London spot or guilty pleasure?

I love going to Oxford Circus and just going to the shops and stuff like any other girl.

Who’s your Olympics crush?

I don’t really have a crush… but I’ve always loved watching Michael Phelps compete. It’s completely amazing to watch, so probably him.

What is the most common misconception about your sport?

Because of 'Austin Powers’ everyone thinks it’s about floating in the water with sparkly costumes, lots of make-up and silly nose clips. When people actually watch it, they see it's very much an athletic and hard sport.

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