Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

Making a synchronised effort for Olympic glory

Posted by Kimberly on August 1, 2008

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
August 01, 2008 (496 words)

It’s taken Britain about 16 years, but the nation’s finally got their first Olympic synchronised swimming duet in 18-year-old Olivia Allison and 19-year-old Jenna Randall.
The two teenagers spoke to the media yesterday at the Westin Resort, Macau, about the changed perception of the sport and its true difficulties.
“Everyday, we’re training full time,” says Allison, adding that “all we do is eat, sleep and train.”
To be more precise, the girls are required to practise up to seven hours a day for six days a week, during this crucial period, although not all of this is intense, with practice involving different phases of training.
“We’re a lot fitter!” says Randall, who explained that they used to achieve scores in the “low 7’s at the European Championships” but were now achieving high 8’s to low 9’s, “so we’ve improved by a whole category of marks.”
And as far as the girls’ Performance Director, Biz Price is concerned, this is only the beginning.
“I think they have another two years to go” before become ‘really fit”, she says and Randall agrees, adding that “I feel pretty fit at the moment but for my sport, I’m not that great yet.”
Biz explains that, despite public opinion on the sport’s place as an Olympic event, the amount of work that is required of the girls is far more than simple twirls and spins.
For example, practise usually involves muscle and ligament lengthening, working against gravity and buoyancy in water, as well as physical fitness.
And if none of that impresses, there’s also the requirement of the athlete to be able to hold their breath for log periods of time.
“In a routine, we hold our breath for two minutes out of a three-and-a-half minute piece,” explains Allison.
Randall adds that while this was occurring, “you have lactic acid building up and you feel like passing out…”
“But you have to make it look effortless,” finishes Allison.
But for Randall, “it’s very much worth it [being at the Olympics] as I hadn’t imagined I’d be here.”
Allison attributes their success to “having a goal, as we were only looking at 2012 to begin with.”
“Our goal was to be in the top 18,” explained Biz, “we got into the 17th spot,” but she explains that the girls don’t yet have a world ranking.
Calling synchronised swimming a sport that’s “unique and quirky but feminine, dynamic and physical,” Biz believes that increased exposure is great, with majority of responses tending to be, “my God, we had no idea?” she says.
Allison explains that the peak age for synchronised swimmers was their late 20s, “so we have quite a long time to go yet.”
As far as Randall’s concerned, she’ll “obviously carry to to 2016, and see how I’ll feel then after that.”
As for home turf in the London 2012 Games, Biz is confident the girls can be in the top six.
“There’s a chance for medals then,” she adds.

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