How synchro has changed
Over the last decade, a huge metamorphosis has taken place within synchronised swimming. This has occurred for three main reasons: the sport has become increasingly popular worldwide – about 100 nations have regular programmes in this discipline; the performances have dramatically changed, as new figures and movements, and a new event - the combination - have made synchro more spectacular; and, last but not least, the top-three hierarchy at the three major events – Olympic Games, World Championships and World Cups – has significantly evolved. We could say that all these three items are deeply connected – more participation leads to more interest, more interest leads to more stars - but let us take a look into the last topic and recall the evolution since 1973; the date on which the first edition of the FINA World Championships was launched - the first major competition for synchronised swimmers worldwide.
Brenda Villa (USA) - The taste for gold
Her resume happens to break the traditional one page rule, but that is what happens when you have played in three Olympic Games, and concluding this past August in Rome, Italy, six FINA World Championships. She is Brenda Villa of USA Water Polo and these latest World Championships were just another for Villa where she ended up wearing the Gold.
Anyone that has followed women’s water polo over the last decade knows Brenda Villa all too well. The Stanford grad from the largely Hispanic community of Commerce, California grew up playing with the boys, and hit the National Team scene exactly at the right time. Coming on board in the late 90s, Villa was able to step into a new world for the sport that saw inclusion in the Olympic Games and an increased presence in women’s university action.
A 113 year long success story
The history of Hungarian swimming has been a story of excellence since the beginning of the modern sporting era. The winner of the first Olympic gold medal, in 1896, at Athens, was in fact a Hungarian - Alfred Hajos, in the 100 metres freestyle. He won also a second gold medal over the distance of 1200 metres, and went home with two of the three gold medals at stake. Later, Hajos became an architect and designed Budapest's finest competitive swimming pools, in which Hungary trained its next great champions.
Tom Daley (GBR) - Prince of the Platform
At the age of 15, Thomas “Tom” Daley (GBR) is the reigning World and European champion in the 10m platform and his potential appears to be limitless. Senior national champion by the age of 13, the “buzz” behind Daley’s success has thus far been related to his youth – a warranted storyline considering his victory in Rome made him the second-youngest world diving champion ever, and that he was the second-youngest British Olympian ever when he competed in Beijing at age 14 (and the youngest on the 2008 British team), and that he is the youngest ever continental champion (etc., etc.). But Daley is no longer a boy. He is growing rapidly and under close scrutiny of nutritionists, psychologists, coaches and his parents to ensure his training is adjusted to suit his body development in a way that can provide maximum competitive benefits. His success-in-youth is no longer the focus; his sheer talent, mental fortitude, and whether he will continue to win as an adult is now the main subject.
Swimming all the rage, thanks to suit flap
Source: USA Today, Updated by Mike Lopresti, Gannett
Somewhere out there, boxing and hockey and horse racing and every other sport craving more notice must be turning aquamarine with envy. There's a new master when it comes to attracting attention to itself.
We give you … swimming?
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