A round-up of today's other stories in brief
Focus sport: synchronised swimming
For the hard core, it has the ‘dodgy’ tag and there is no point in avoiding that. Variously described as water ballet or pool gymnastics, it falls under the umbrella of aquatics.
Nose clips, painted smiles and top-of-the-range water-proof make-up does little to harden up the image of synchronised swimming. Then again maybe what has been an Olympic sport since 1984 does not want to harden up.
What it has attracted recently is accusations of discrimination in that only women participate at the Games, although men practise and compete in the sport too. A lobby group of male synchronised swimmers wrote to the IOC and swimming’s governing body Fina in June to argue that men should no longer be excluded from this event at the Olympics.
The group, which includes the London swimming group Out To Swim, said this was gender discrimination despite the Olympic Charter condemning any discrimination. Let’s not get into all the events that exclude women.
Gender issues aside, athletes require strength, flexibility, and aerobic endurance to perform the difficult routines. Swimmers perform twice for the judges, one technical and one free, as well as age-group routines and figures. Although it’s a relatively recent addition to the Olympics, synchronised swimming has been around for a bit.
In 1933-1934 Kathryn Curtis organised a show, “The Modern Mermaids”, for the World Exhibition in Chicago, which the announcer introduced as “synchronized swimming”. This was the first mentioning of the term synchronized swimming, although Curtis still used the term rhythmic swimming in her book, Rhythmic Swimming: A Source Book of Synchronized Swimming and Water Pageantry (Minneapolis: Burgess Publishing Co, 1936). Water Pageantry sounds good. Dodgy?
London Spectator – Hyde Park Marathon Swim August 9th-10th
As you may have gathered London is doing ‘iconic’ with their Olympic venues.
Another is Hyde Park, where 3,000 spectators will enjoy views of the marathon swimming event (and triathlon) in the park’s famous Serpentine Lake.
Having swum in the Serpentine we can vouch that it’s murky and there are birds everywhere.
Just what the nature lovers around South Kensington and Bayswater will do with all of the Shoveler, Pochard, Coot, Mallard, Tufted Duck and various warblers and waders that live on the lake, we don’t know.
The London 2012 organisers have said that they will make every effort to ensure that the park is returned to its usual condition once the Games have concluded.
The spectator grandstand next to the Serpentine Lake will be carefully dismantled and Hyde Park’s standard recreational and leisure activities will be relatively undisturbed.
Home to numerous amateur sports clubs, such as the Serpentine Swimming Club, the park has also frequently hosted large scale sports events – including the London edition of the annual ITU World Triathlon Series.
The open water marathon swimming 10km event will take place over two days on 9th and 10th of August, with the female swimmers on the first day and the male swimmers participating on the second.
The 10km swim was introduced to the Olympic schedule at the Beijing 2008 Games and the distance takes just under two hours to complete for the elite men and women participants.
Hyde Park has been open to the public since 1637 and is the most expansive of London’s Royal Parks.
On one side is the high end retail outfit Harrods, the other Park Lane and Marble Arch and towards Kensington High Street is Kensington Palace.
The Serpentine Gallery is another focal point as is the Lady Diana Memorial located just beside the lake and close to the Serpentine Swimming Club.