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6 things you need to know about synchronised swimming

Turns out personal finance isn’t the only thing that can seem a little, er, mysterious to the untrained eye.

After last week’s look at weightlifting, we’ve turned our jargon-busting powers to synchronised swimming – here’s what you need to know:

There are two medal categories: duet and team. There’s a British duet competing, so we’ll be cheering them on, though Russia took gold in both categories in 2012.

Each competition has two phases…: The preliminary has a technical (where the team has to perform a series of prescribed actions) and a free routine (where they perform their own choreography) and the final just has a free routine.

…and two separate judging panels: There are two panels of five judges (one panel for artistic impression and one for technical merit) who give scores for each routine performed.

Sculls and Eggbeaters: These are the basic moves of synchronised swimming. Sculls are hand movements used to propel the body and the eggbeater is a way of treading water that provides the necessary height leaves hands free. On top of this there are hundreds of other kicks (with fantastic names like ‘the flamingo’ and ‘knight’) and lifts.

They don’t touch the bottom – ever: Even when they’re throwing their team mate high into the air, feet on the bottom of the pool leads to a two-point penalty. This is part of what makes this such a demanding sport. And with all those legs going like the clappers, it’s not surprising that injuries happen – according to this New York Times article, 100% of synchronised swimmers will have experiences concussion at some point in their career. Ouch.

Their hair is held in place with gelatine: Wondered how synchronised swimmers’ hair stays immobile and seal-sleek throughout? The not-so glamorous answer is that they comb Knox gelatine through it. This gooey substance stays in place because the water in the pool is around 84/29 degrees. It takes a ferociously hot shower to get it out afterwards.

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