The U.S. synchronized swimming is often mocked, thanks in large part to this classic Martin Short-Harry Shearer Saturday Night Live skit. But keep in mind: the comedians “performed” in the shallow end of the pool. Olympic synchronized swimming is done in the deep end, so the ability to execute athletic moves while treading water requires great strength and endurance–something I learned first hand when U.S. team gamely offered me a tutorial.
And because the U.S. is one of the few countries in which the government does not fund the Olympic team, there are significant financial challenges for athletes in low-revenue Olympic sports like synchronized swimming. Given the current political and economic environment, that’s not going to change. “You can say that at a time when we have people out of work,” says Scott Blackmun, CEO of the USOC, “it is not a time to be investing in sports programs.” You can read more on about the synchronized swimming team and sports financing here. In the meantime, take a look at how I fared in the pool.
(With thanks to the U.S. swimmers for their generosity and sportsmanship.)