It was with a splash of trepidation I started my first ever sychronised swimming class. As a reasonably strong swimmer and a lifeguard in days past, I’d have been relatively confident of my water skills had it not been years since I’d properly practiced either.
However after meeting my smiley instructor, the former Olympian Heba Abdel Gawad, I felt a little surer as I dipped into the world of synchronised swimming. I’d been nervous for days wondering if it would be too difficult or feel like training (which is why I gave up on swimming as a teen), but thankfully it was neither.
After a short refresher in sculling, Heba talked us through moving our legs in a range of positions before fitting me out with the most unattractive piece of swimming kit: a nose clip. I pondered whether this is why synchro swimmers often wear a fair slice of make up when performing – to help divert from the rather ugly clip?
Regardless it came in useful as I had to perch my legs on the edge with my body submerged in the pool, while asked that I push myself upside down so my head rested back against the wall. Being underwater and upside down was a little solitary, but an experience that prepared me for the following moves.
Back in the middle of the pool, floatation devices in the shape of empty milk bottles were given out. With two in each hand, I pulled my knees to my chest and tried, somewhat in vein, to turn myself upside down and stay there. Of course, I didn’t achieve it, but I did succeed in my first backward summersault in a number of years that didn’t result in a terrible crick in my neck afterwards. I’m thanking both the nose clip and the recycled milk bottles for that small virtue!
Before hanging me out to dry, the session rounded with a routine set to music; much to my horror. Being British has given me the unenviable asset of being ill-equipped to deal with rhythm, so I struggled to remember the sequence and became a little out of sync with my fellow swimmers. Despite that, I loved splashing about and will be returning to nurture my inner water ballerina very soon.