After failing to qualify for the team competition for the past four Olympic Games, Great Britain has finally managed to qualify its first full Olympic team to represent the host country in the London 2012 Olympics. This article highlights Britain’s obstacles and triumphs throughout its synchronized swimmers’ journeys to the 2012 Olympic Games. Only four years ago, Britain sent two synchronized swimmers to compete in the Olympics, and their duet placed 14th. The British synchronized swimming association implemented several measures that brought its swimmers from being outliers in the competition to major competitors in the upcoming Games.
From Zero to Hero
The Sport Digest blog recently posted an article about the financial difficulties of Olympic athletes, especially for those whose sports are too unpopular or obscure to attract mainstream popularity. The article referenced synchronized swimmers, who, despite their full-time practice schedules, have made fundraising their second jobs. Because of its small fan base and absence in the Olympic Games, Britain’s synchronized swim team has had many financial difficulties over the past couple decades. Financial difficulties coupled with unfamiliarity with the sport have contributed to Great Britain’s lack of appearances at the Olympics. In 2007, following the announcement of the 2012 London Games, the home country hired Biz Price, a national performance director, to form and train a national team. Since its creation, Great Britain has soared from ambiguousness to one of the top teams internationally. The team’s rigorous 42 hour per week training schedule has helped their rankings rise from 15th in 2009 to 9th in 2011 at the World Championships. In July, Britain will be sending a full team of 9 girls, 8 swimmers and 1 alternate, to the London 2012 Games.
Here is a video* from 2009. It is clear how much better the soloist, Jenna Randall, and her duet partner, Olivia Federici, are than the rest of the team. These two women were the only British synchronized swimmers to compete in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Unfortunately, the team did not make it to the finals of the World Championships in 2009.
London 2012 Expectations
Despite its immense success and improvement in the past few years, Britain’s expectations are not high for the London Games. It is unlikely that the country will earn any medals for synchronized swimming, given the past performances and reputations of countries such as Russia, China, Canada, and the United States. Great Britain will, however, have a “home court” advantage, and it will undoubtedly be the most supported country at the Olympics. Because Great Britain wants to display its talents as greatly as possible as the host country, I am betting that Great Britain will place around 6th or 7th in the team competition and around 10th in the duet competition. Many other countries already have such great presences in the sport and such well-established teams that Great Britain’s appearance at the Olympic Games will unlikely have a “Cinderella story” ending. Despite this apparent pessimism, Britain will still be a great team to watch throughout the London Games.
This is a video** from the 2011 World Championship in Shanghai. The improvement is noticeable from the previous video, and the team made it to the finals, placing 9th. The swimmers’ movements are much quicker and more intricate than those in the 2009 performance. In addition, duet partners Randall and Federici do not stand out against their team members nearly as much as in the previous video.
Countdown to London 2012: 112 days!
*Great Britain Synchro Swimming Combo Prelim – World Swim Champs Rome 2009, davidfsmithuk, 7/28/09, 4/6/12
**Great Britain Final Team Free, Synchronized Swimming, Shanghai World Championships 2011, RecintoMoxo, 6/23/11, 4/6/12