June 21, 2021
(Reuters) – Focus on artistic swimming – formerly known as synchronised swimming – at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics:
THE ABSOLUTE BASICS
* One of only two women-only events at the Olympics, besides rhythmic gymnastics
* There are two competitions: duet, with two athletes, and team, with eight
* Swimmers in both events compete in a “free” routine and a “technical routine”. Scoring is from 0-100 and the combined final scores from both determine the winner.
HOW MANY MEDALS?
Two, one in team and one in duet.
WHAT HAPPENED IN RIO?
In 2016, Russia continued its dominance of a sport in which it has won every Olympic gold medal since Sydney in 2000, winning a fifth consecutive gold medal in the team competition with routines revolving around mermaids and gypsies.
Svetlana Romashima and Natalia Ishchenko took a second consecutive gold in the duet. Ishchenko has since retired and Romashima is now paired with Svetlana Kolesnichenko, a member of the Rio gold medal winning team.
China took silver in both team and duet, while Japan claimed bronze.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN TOKYO?
The Russians are set to be the ones to beat after taking nine out of 10 golds at the 2019 World Championships, with China and Japan hot on their heels.
Another team to watch will be Ukraine, which took the only gold that Russia didn’t win in 2019 and, with six podium finishes at the world championships, are hoping for their first Olympic medal.
Artistic swimming is popular in Japan, so the Japanese team will be looking for a home pool boost.
More and more teams are changing their official name to Artistic Swimming following a 2017 decision by FINA, the governing body for aquatic sports, to rebrand it and boost its popularity.
WHEN IS IT HAPPENING?
From Aug. 2-7.
WHERE IS IT HAPPENING?
At the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, a new building designed by Paul Noritaka Tange, whose father Kenzo designed the Yoyogi Gymnasium used as an aquatics centre in the 1964 Tokyo Games.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Artistic swimming developed from ornamental swimming and water ballets and originally emphasised choreography to focus on graceful movements. From around 2000, more jumps and lifts began to be included.
A demonstration event at several Olympics, artistic swimming became an official sport at the 1984 Los Angeles Games and first featured solo and duet performances. A team event was introduced in Atlanta in 1996, and the duet performance restored at Sydney in 2000.
WELL FANCY THAT
Though the sport emphasises making routines look easy, underwater collisions are common in practice. Estimates of the number of women who experience concussions at some point in their career range from 50% to as high as 100%.
(Reporting by Elaine Lies, editing by Ed Osmond)