This was great fun!  I was a little nervous as I didn’t know what to expect.  But Rebecca and the girls from Seymour Synchro Swim School made me so welcome and were so game to try things out, I had a blast.

On a more serious note, my admiration and respect for those that compete has sky-rocketed: they are awesome athletes.  Ranked as the 21st most demanding sport by one website, I would argue it should be much higher.  I will never scoff again when watching.

I was accompanied by my old friends Laurence Crowley and Jon Harry, with whom I worked as a solicitor, scarily 20 years ago.  It was great to see them, catch up, and to see their astonishment as they witnessed the most unlikely introduction to sport of their (and my) lives.  Thank you guys.

We met at the Queen Mother’s Sports Centre in Victoria, London.  A big thank you to the staff at Everyone Active for being so helpful and accommodating, in particular giving permission to take photographs, as the girls were so keen to capture this unusual interruption to their training.  Synchronised swimming is the 33rd and penultimate sport on my journey to participate in all 34 Olympic and Paralympic sports, so it was vital to record the moment.

I was given a Seymour swim cap – yay! – and then a nose clip.  The latter is vital as you spend quite a bit of time upside down in the water.

The more experienced team members jumped in the diving pool, lowered for these purposes to 3m, just after me.  I was shown some basic moves: holding one arm aloft above the head, then two arms, then jumping up as far as possible.  My efforts felt puny: one arm was satisfactory, two arms and I dropped like a stone.  I managed to jump so that chest came out of the water, but sank so far down I disappeared for what seemed an age.  My forward roll was skewed – my left arm is shorter I burbled – and though I succeeded in completing a backward roll that I thought was better and received a ripple of appreciative “well dones”, I was so disorientated on resurfacing I was useless for about 5 seconds!

The girls decided that they could be more ambitious.  They plotted how they could lift me out of the water and made it ridiculously easy for me: “Just ‘sit’ in the water, with your legs at right angles to your body!”  A volunteer agreed to act as a ‘plank’, with the idea that the girls would lift her up from underneath me and I would be elevated as I sat on her tummy.  Much to my amazement it worked and from only my head being above the water, I was comfortably sitting above it.  Remarkable strength, timing, teamwork and bravery.  I am in awe girls!

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They then hit upon the idea of ‘throwing’ me.  Two of the eight locked hands and again disappeared well below me.  Lifted on either side by their colleagues they created a fireman’s lift and then tipped me forward.  My attempted forward roll was more of a belly flop, due to my incompetence, but it was fun.  A second attempt, being thrown backwards, felt better to me but I guess it didn’t look too good, and I ended up lost!

We finished with a JohnsRoad2Rio star, the girls circling me and making stars and a big wheel and to make it harder for themselves, turning the ‘wheel’ anti-clockwise as they created the shape.

Thank you Seymour.  I was impressed with the multinational nature of the club: at least two Italians, a Russian, a Norwegian, a South African, an American, and an English girl.  After I had left I saw them practicing a routine, of which part required them to move upside down – heads and bodies in the water, legs up, cocked to give shape – and thought “How can they do that?”  It requires real breath control; holding your breath is hard, holding it while exerting yourself is a real challenge.  And moving in water in a controlled manner in time with your colleagues (all of whom you can’t see) and the music; well it is phenomenal.  And that is an easy part of the routine.

Rebecca, an enthusiast and a bubbly American, made my day when she waved goodbye and said,  “Come Again!”  So I hadn’t scared them off.  Thank you girls.

And to any young ladies who like water and dance, do give it a go: synchronised swimming is an awesome sport.  It keeps you fit, healthy, strong, and supple and you get to create real bonds as the teamwork has to be spot on.  I will certainly be looking out for it.