Ona Carbonell in full flight. Image via vestuarionjuego.blogspot.com

Ona Carbonell in full flight. Image via vestuarionjuego.blogspot.com

Ever since my mother and aunty's infamous New Year's Eve synchronized swimming routine went into family folklore circa 1999/2000 (there is video evidence out there I'm told) I have been quite fascinated by synchronized swimming. I had no idea there were so many rules. But of course it's easy to disparage a sport where you have to wear a nose plug while simultaneously doing handstands while under water and smiling. But it's serious business, as evidenced by this amazing routine by champion Spanish synchronized swimmer Ona Carbonell, a self-confessed "mermaid", who feels better under the water than outside it. 

Anyway, according to former synchronized swimmer Jen Graves at The Stranger, Carbonell (whose name means "wave" in Catalan) is something of a rule breaker. Graves said of Carbonell's performance at this year's Barcelona World Championships,

"Carbonell, like many synchronized swimmers of the last decade and seemingly increasingly so, does many things that my coaches told me not to do. She is extremely free with splashing and spitting. We were taught never to splash, and always to exhale before emerging from underwater so as to avoid the blowfish effect you see from world-champion swimmers today."

What's more, says Graves, Carbonell's performance is like watching female anger bursting forth beneath the water and in an excellent sparkling costume.

"Watching this video of Carbonell leaves me wondering if I'm feeling anything like women did who were told not to wear short skirts and then saw their daughters growing up to defiantly and proudly wear short skirts. All the splashing and spitting feels kind of like letting female anger come out in the pool", says Grave.

And I get it. The way Carbonell stalks around the diving board before diving in like a gleaming graceful dolphin (or something) and then furiously splash around the pool without ever losing her champion poise is kind of amazing. It only builds on my respect for the sport. According to my mother, synchronized swimming was much, much harder than she had expected.

Source: The Stranger