Let's start with the peculiar ways in which these athletes dress themselves. My feelings on their swimsuits are mixed. On some level, these gaudy, glittery, often themed monstrosities are everything that I, as a scrapbooker and former prom chair, could ever hope to see in a garment. While watching this event, I'll admit that I sometimes catch myself thinking, "I would wear that. I kind of want to own that swimsuit." But then a team walks out in, for example, these Michael Jackson swimsuits -
- and I punch myself for ever wanting to own anything that even shared a pool with these. I know that many people think these MJ suits are really cool, but riddle me this: if they were somewhat less glittery and cut more like a normal one-piece, could you not see these being sold at K-Mart? And if they were made readily available to the public, how many times a day do you think you could find them, inappropriately sized for their wearers, at the world's trashiest amusement/water park, Indiana Beach? The answer is a whole lot of times, people. And if you still need more examples of horrible suits, keep in mind that these anatomy-themed costumes exist.
(Yes, those caps are designed to be brains. No, I'm not sorry for the nightmares you'll have tonight.)
There is also, of course, the frightening question of how they do their hair. Some, like our body-themed friends, wear swim caps to match their suits. Depending on the costume theme, this can get weird - but the swim cap is a concept I can at least understand. The truly befuddling hairstyle is the mysteriously water-resistant bun. These coifs, often adorned with apparently waterproof flowers or abstract patches of fabric, are shiny and creepy-looking before the swimmers even hit the pool. For a while, I thought they were actual swim caps cleverly designed to look like hair. But then I saw competitors like these guys.
Given the two different colors, that looks suspiciously like their own hair. I don't even want to think about what kind of ozone-destroying products they use to achieve such waterproof perfection. And of course, let's not forget the strangest costume piece of all: the nose plugs. I completely understand why the swimmers wear them, but practical as they may be, they are incredibly weird.
Then there's the event itself. I mentioned in my other Olympics post that I find women's water polo to be physically impossible. Now that the Games are winding down, I must admit that the most impossible-looking sport is synchronized swimming. In any given four-minute routine, only about 12 seconds are devoted to actual breathing. Based solely on how long they go without taking in oxygen, I am once again forced to conclude that these athletes simply cannot be human. (This conclusion is supported, of course, by photographs like this one of the reigning Olympic champs, the Russians.)
Even if they did breathe normally, though, the athleticism of this event is, in itself, completely bonkers. Today, I watched a girl glide across the pool for a good five seconds while standing upright on the soles of her teammate's feet - her teammate (as a reminder) whose head was five and a half feet underwater and who was swimming across a pool while vertical and upside down. This. Cannot. Be. Real. Another favorite move of the synchronized swimmers is to toss one of their team members high enough into the air that they can do several flips before returning to the pool. Meanwhile, while all of this is going on, there are between two and eight women doing every single move in complete unison, be it above water or, inexplicably, below the water where the judges can't even see them.
Synchronized swimming, quite simply, is incredible. For the sake of preventing countless nightmares, I maintain that it should probably be removed from the Olympic schedule of events. For the sake of causing nightmares, however, I leave you with this photograph that I just created.