Synchronized Swimming guide—London 2012 Olympics

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

Photograph: Synchronized Swimming via Shutterstock

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 Ryan Seacrest cringe.

RECOMMENDED: See our full list of London 2012 Olympic sport guides

Synchronised Swimming - The essential guide

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 glamorous entrants do well.

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

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 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 sports meets art.'

Don't say: ‘I’ve been to bars in New Jersey where the girls wear less makeup than that.’