June 2004 archives

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23 June 2004

People often wonder why synchronized swimmers wear their hair pulled back. I have no idea where this concept started, but here is one practical explanation I've considered.

When swimmers practice, they wear caps to keep their hair out of the way. Caps actually protect hair from chlorine and sun damage as well. When synchro athletes compete, wearing caps is not attractive. Caps can fall off and then hair ends up flying everywhere. It is much more attractive to watch competitors with neat hair pulled back. You can see athletes' faces much better as well, which allows judges to view expressions and interpretations of the music.

Just imagine a female figure skater that leaves her hair long and not pulled back. As she does jumps and spins, all you notice is hair flying around, rather than the actual positions of her body. When skaters wear their hair pulled back, the focus is back on the skater's performance.

This also happens in women's wrestling. Although athletes try to keep their hair pulled tight in order to compete effectively, often times hair is released from the knot and starts flying everywhere. As a spectator (or officials) you focus on the hair and not the moves the wrestler is doing.

Hair is distracting. It is very typical for female athletes in all sports to pull their hair back to compete.

10 June 2004

Here is an interesting article about sports in the Olympics.

7 June 2004

When I was training for the Olympics, I quickly came to understand the meaning of the term 'dig deep.'

I just read a quote from a synchro coach in Canada that expresses this idea well: "It's expecting more of yourself than you thought you humanly, possibly could. Every single day, you come back and say yesterday was the hardest day I could ever do, and then the next day you have to do more."

Training is a constant, internal struggle about how far you can push yourself. Understanding and living this concept has helped me to conquer challenges in life and work. I think sports do this for people of all ages, all over the world.

4 June 2004

The relationship between a coach and a swimmer from a visual perspective is very different from other non-aquatic sports. This is due to the fact that the pool deck is so much higher than the swimmer's level viewpoint. Coaches stand on the deck of the pool and the swimmers are far below in the water. Depending on the pool structure, the water surface can actually be below the pool deck (due to gutters).

In other sports like track and field, soccer, or taekwondo, coaches and athletes both stand at the same level. From a psychological perspective, I think this causes a different type of relationship to develop.

3 June 2004

Weather can have an impact in many different sports. For synchronized swimming, wind can be the biggest problem.

In compulsory figures, athletes must stay perfectly positioned in front of a red marker placed in the pool in fromt of a panel of judges. If the wind is blowing, it is very easy to be pushed in different directions and move from that spot. Deductions are made to your score if you move, so it is very important to stay put.

Wind can also have an impact on routines. Athletes move up and down a 25 or 30 meter space in a pool while they compete a routine, much like swimming athletes. When the wind is blowing, athletes tend to be pushed slightly out of the center of the pool. It is difficult to battle not only the unstable medium of water, but to push against wind as they make their way up and down the pool.

Ultimately, athletes of all sports must consider weather as they train. They must be ready to adapt to all situations, be it rain, wind, or cold weather.

synchronized swimming insights from an olympic gold medalist