Stuff in a Pool That Isn't A Race
If you are like most people you see synchronized swimming on the docket of the Olympics and you think it is just some people that spent 15 minutes with each other figuring out some routine like they were on their feet for a sixth grade talent show. That couldn't be further from the truth and if you don't think so go try and just fred water for five or ten minutes. Not as easy as you may think. It looks sometimes as if the people in the pool are robots that were programed the right way and the strength that everyone in the pool has is just unreal.
How it works: There are two different parter to the synchronized swimming portion of the Olympics and those are the team event and the duet event. There are eight nations that will compete in the team event and the United States will not be one of those teams. They failed to qualify for the first time 1996. The eight nations that qualified are: Australia, Canada, China, Egypt, Great Britain, Japan, Russia and Spain.
Each team is composed of nine athletes and is half of the final score. The other half of the score is the duet portion. In each of the portions there is a technical routine and a free routine. The technical routine is what it may seem as the teams and duets are scored for how the athletes perform and execute the finer elements of synchronized swimming while the free routine gives the teams more a chance to branch out and get creative.
During the technical routine the team is giving a time limit of 2:50 while the duet phase of the technical routine is given 2:20. In the free routine the teams and duets get more time with four minutes being allotted for the team and 3:30 for the duet. With all the portions of what I have talked about the teams can pick music they want and with the free routines they have no restrictions as to what they can do. Basically how it works is if you want to see what the "older timers" mean when they talk about synchronized swimming you want to watch the technical portion and if you want to see what teams can creatively do you are more likely to watch the free routine.
Interesting to note that this is one of the few Olympic events that there is no men's competition.
The USA Chances: Um, yea, so about that. As I said before the United States will not have a team in the competition this year but from what I could research it seems as if Russia, China and Spain will vie for the top spot in the duet while the same three should be right there in the team portion.
Adam's Take: You know, what? Russia is as good at synchronized swimming as they are at chess and ballet...probably even better. Probably as good as they are at making dressing that no one ever orders at restaurants. Probably as good as they are at making those weird little dolls that look like bowling pins that fit inside each other that you buy for people and then they feel obliged to display them even though they don't fit the motif of their respective living space but have to just on the off chance that you stop over for an unannounced visit so they end up resenting you without you knowing it. And you don't want that. Do you? As far as I can tell, everyone expects Russia to win gold in this event this year. SO...go nuts. Pick China or Spain. Or don't. Just know that if you pick Russia you'll probably win...but not in the friends department, ok?
If you are wondering what diving is then you probably need to go get your head checked or you live in a desert where there is no water and you have no television. On a more serious note there isn't much more to that then you think. While you are I can go up to a diving board and try to jump into the water as good as they do we really don't even touch what these athletes can do. They go into the water and barely make the water move. If you see a splash then you know the diver really messed up the dive and they are going to be penalized for that in a big way with the judges.
How it works: There are 25 nations participating in this year's diving competition which includes Australia, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, France Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, United States and Venezuela. Woof, that is a lot of countries.
For both the men's and women's events there are four types of dives which includes the platform ( 10-meter), springboard (3-meter), synchronized platform and synchronized springboard. I will take the format directly from the NBC website:
In women's springboard and platform competitions, divers execute five dives from different groups (forward, backward, reverse, inward and twisting; armstand in platform only) without a limit on degree of difficulty.
In men's springboard, divers execute six dives from different groups, with one from each of the five groups plus an additional dive from any group, without a limit on degree of difficulty. In men's platform, divers execute six dives from the six different groups.
OK, now that we have that out of the way we can talk about the format for the individual events. The first round is the preliminary round where all divers perform and the top-18 divers move on. If there is a tie for the final spot then both divers move on (nice of them to include both). They they participate in the semifinals where the top-12 move on to the finals.
For the synchronized events there is only one round where the women will perform five dives from four different groups and the men will perform six dives from a minimum of four different groups. You can only use the same group a maximum of twice so you have to mix it up.
A group of seven judges score the individual dives and a group of nine judges score the synchronized dives. They each gives scores between a 0-10 with a score of ten being the best. The main portions of the dive that are taken in consideration when giving out a score are: approach, take-off, elevation, execution and entry.
The USA Chances: The American men and women haven't had much success winning medals in the recent past in the diving events as the women last won gold in 2000 while the men have been shut out on the medal ceremony since 1996. China has been nothing short of outstanding as they had 11 medals in the last Summer Olympics and Canada had a couple of medal wins. It will be an amazingly competitive event for the USA.
Adam's Take: I think we need to campaign the IOC to change the rules of this event to MANDATE that all contestants (or combatants, as I think they should be called, but we can argue over semantics later) to bellow out the following prior to their dives:
Obviously, that's going to liven things up a bit. Now, as far as the chances the US have, there's the Chinese and then their's everyone else. Most people feel that they are favored in all eight events...daunting. Russia, USA & Germany all have individuals that will challenge them for medals, though. Canada, in the synchronized events, are probably the most likely to punch through The Great Wall, GET IT??? LOLZ!