We already knew London was the sixth French city, now it also has a synchronized swimming team ranked third in the French University Championship (the French equivalent of BUCS). With its five keen members and two amazing coaches, it was no mean feat for Imperial College Synchronised Swimming team to just to participate to this competition. Being the only university team in the UK, they had no choice but to try to compete abroad.
After convincing the French organisers that an English university team has its place in a French competition; fighting to get enough swimmers to compete in the middle of the undergraduate student exams; and struggling to get enough training to be ready in time; they finally arrive in Thiers, a small city in the middle of France best know for its knifes, on the morning of the competition. They found very friendly organisers and French teams to greet them, but also discovered soon that the other teams had not been training three hours a week as they had but two to four hours per day!
After the usual warming-up session when they had the opportunity to go through the last details to perfect, they have a few hours to eat and get prepared for the competition itself: make up, put their hair up and put some gelatine in to keep it from falling in front of their eyes in the water. Then they were called for their training with music: the last time they could do the whole routine in music before the actual competition. The pressure is on, not only do they have to perform their routine in front of their future competitors but also in front of all the swimmers taking part in the traditional swimming competition taking place in the same pool that day. They now have a few minutes to relax and rest before the competition starts with the duets and then the team combination routines. The stress is at its highest; despite a training well they have to stay focused as this is their one shot at showing what they have been working on all year long. Four minutes of effort, four minutes of intense concentration, four minutes of smiling despite the tiredness; but also four minutes of happiness, four minutes of fulfillment, four minutes looking at the people around the pool between figures and letting their cheers give them a push to keep going and swim better than they ever did. And then they came out of the water, waving at their names and laughing with relief, with the best feeling of all: the feeling of achievement.
They did it; they showed that despite the lack of training opportunities, despite having only five girls competing, despite having two girls who only started synchro six months before, they can still swim, and compete a nice routine. It might not be as good as a routine with ten girls; it might not be as technically difficult as a routine from girls who did ten years of synchro and practice every day; but here it is, pretty, clear, and worth a medal. After all these emotions they were thanked by the organizing committee with a special scarf for coming all the way from England, and got their medal. A little push and their coach ends up in the water, fully dressed; they join her, a few last pictures and this is it, it is time to leave the pool. Eat a little, take off this synchro make up and silly gelatine in their hair, have a few well-deserved drinks and then a good night sleep. Tomorrow, a little stroll in Lyon and then back to London; after all synchro is not all, they have to work as well.
Here it is, end of the story for now; but if you would like to live it next year, they are going to France to compete again, so you could join them, whatever your level; they will be happy to take you on board and teach you all you need to know. And if you do not want to compete, well why not still give synchro a go, just for fun, IC synchro team would be delighted to introduce you to the sport or help you practice if you already have some experience.