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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Synchro Smackdown

posted by on August 23 at 0:12 AM

So, Jen Graves and I are very stupid and our laptops are not equipped to handle Cover It Live. This will be old-school liveslog. Comment in the regular comments.

Annie: Whew. I am exhausted. I have been watching teenage Jen Graves point her toes and spin around upside down for a half hour, and I now feel prepared to handle the NBC broadcast of the team technical event. So what is the techical event, Jen?

Jen: Technical event is, you know, technical. Less free than the free routine. Which is happening right this second. So if you’re watching on a computer that has an Intel processor, for the love of god, then you can see that. We here have an incredibly complex setup that involves one Intel-enabled live feed, one television, and two computers, neither of which can handle, you know, simple live-blogging programs. But we digress.


Annie: I was pretty excited by that fireball the news had on just now. I have no idea what was on fire. Oh well. So, the NBC broadcast starts at 12:30 and it will be some stuff that happened, like, 24 hours ago. If you don’t have an Intel processor and want to see the free routine (after which the medals will be awarded), then you have to wait until tomorrow between 9 and 5. Very helpful. If you do have an Intel processor, you can click here and be 24 hours ahead of us.

What I want to know is, does the technical event involve people being thrown around the pool? Obviously, the only cool thing about synchro is people being flung willy-nilly across the pool.

Jen: Yes, there will be throwing. (And for those of you watching the Intel version, did you see that back-flip toss just now? Whoa. That closeup of a bunch of wet, smiling ladies is upsetting, but not as upsetting as the words “wet, smiling ladies.” I am so sorry.)

So the NBC broadcast starts in two minutes. Annie and I have heard that a pair of Americans chose as their theme “The Rebirth of Christ.” I wish we could see that. Instead, I believe we are about to see some Spanish “gangstas.” Yes. Get. Ready.

Annie: Any sport that allows its athletes to title their routines is, by definition, ridiculous. A sport does not need a title. A book needs a title. An artwork needs a title. A sporting performance should be autonomous.

Jen: Ah, the lame diversions from the actual athletics begin. The question is, you dirty ex-gymnast, can you even tread water?

Annie: Yes, I can tread water. Can you do a roundoff backhandspring double-full layout? I can’t either. But I used to be able to.

We have no idea where the synchro is either, people. We are still watching channel 5 and praying

Jen: NEW AGENDA. We are watching the live feed on the computer—on that URL we pasted into the top of this thing—because NBC is showing women’s volleyball, Cuba versus China. But this will be better! No gangstas. But at least we will not have to pretend we do not know the results.

What I’m seeing is a lot of head bobbing. I am not impressed. Our feed has to buffer every once in a while, which is brutal on synchronization—oh! some kind of eight-person dolphinish wave thing!—because every little detail is plain to see when the screen freezes.

Annie: I will now discuss the live-feed leotards. I mean, swim suits. The Japanese suits are blue and white and the pattern is like a battered butterfly. No, I don’t like it. Whoa, they got the exact same score for their technical and free routine. That must not happen often. They must be exactly as obsessive compulsive as they are free. Yes, that sounds like the Japanese.

Jen: Not tribal heads on their bosoms! OMG, are they a head totem pole? WHY DID IT JUST CUT TO AN AD?

OK, so the Spaniards, out of nowhere (I always knew the champions to be the Russians, the Canadians, and the Americans), are vying for gold.

They, I believe, are trying to convince us that they are in a rain forest. This is fairly distracting, considering that what they are doing is actually INCREDIBLY fast and difficult. Remember, when legs are straight up in the air—WHOA! did you catch that straddle line???—is when it’s the hardest. Both legs or both arms, the straighter, the harder.

Annie: I like the Spaniards. They seem hardcore. Some of the music sounds like squeaky rubber birds. I especially liked the double-straddle business. Jen was telling me that there is more splashing nowadays than there used to be. Splashing is good. It will convince people that synchro swimmers are not obsessed with being effortless. Some part of these judged sports should look effortless, but other parts should look freaking difficult. Otherwise, who cares? Plus, splashing is like percussion. You can add your own music, basically.

Jen: Annie is totally, totally right about the effortlessness problem. Except that I would like to reiterate that synchro has NOTHING in common with certain other judged sports, those sports being rhythmic gymnastics, which is from Satan.


Hey, nice lift! Wow, they are really not fooling around with this splashing. I think I’m actually torn—it makes them look like they’re just flailing. For the first, like, decade you spend doing synchronized swimming, you do look like you’re drowning, so when you’re actually good, you want it to look sort of amazing.

Look at that Russian woman’s hip dislocation on that lift! When I was swimming, Russian coaches would sometimes come to workshops or camps or whatever, and they would always smush your body down in a split as if the Cold War depended on it. I sort of loved it. They were no fooling. And now, all these years later, they still corner the market on flexibility, but they have the strength, too.

WHOA. Do you see those perfect 10s???? I’m anti. That was so not perfect.

Annie: I had a Czech gymnastics coach once who totally sat on me. But there was all sorts of sitting on people in gymnastics—usually your lighter fellow gymnasts would be recruited. I used to do overextended splits, where first I would be in the splits and then I would put my front leg on a block like a foot off the floor. Shawn Johnson needs some of this.

So the Russians got perfect tens from everyone except.. was that Kazakhstan?? Wow. I don’t understand this judging at all. I mean, the Russians were fantastic, but surely somebody broke the synchronization somewhere? I don’t know, the live feed was too jumpy.

It’s true that indoor volleyball is way better than beach volleyball. There’s all that faking out. And the tiny shorts are cute!

Jen: Indoor volleyball is patently superior. I used to play this sport, too, coincidentally. I was the digger. In the back. Center. You know, the one always flinging herself to the floor. I am constitutionally incapable of a good spike.

However, back to the subject at hand, I would like to say that it is moments like these when I desperately miss my synchro. Oh, my synchro. Now when I climb out of the water it takes longer. I feel this is something that should never happen to a body.

Annie: I mean, synchro should obviously never happen to a body. Gymnastics certainly should not happen to a body. But happen it does! I started gymnastics at the age of three because my hip was rotated inward, giving me pigeon toes and problems walking. Gymnastics straightened me out, more or less. I also could have done ice skating or something else, but at the age of three, I preferred gymnastics. The next nine years of my life were set.

I think Jen was plucked from the pool at the age of 4 because she could float good. Is that right?

Jen: Yup. Not only good, but vertically. This is important. When the woman who was teaching me how to swim (and who had a private synchro team, too) dropped me into the deep end of a pool to see what would happen, I just lay there like Christ (the REBIRTH!) with my legs straight down and my arms along the surface out to the sides. I competed in my first meet just after I turned five. I competed in my last meet just after I turned 20. My whole life as a little kid I wanted to go to the Olympics, but I didn’t hang on. Oh, I feel … embarrassed.

Annie: Wow, that is a disturbing image, of Jen the floating Christ. I’m trying to remember when I first competed. I was on a Class IV that trained at the Hec Edmundson Pavilion by the age of 6, but I’m not sure I competed until I moved to Phoenix. Then I started at level 5 (new regimen, but also now outdated) at the age of 7. I really wish NBC would play this indoor volleyball when people are awake. Beach volleyball is clearly less interesting. If the indoor girls had to wear bikinis and the beach babes had to wear shirts, that would be the real game-changer.

Jen: Beach volleyball should not even be called volleyball, because there are no volleys.

Okay, WHERE IS MY NBC SYNCHRO? I have nothing but love and respect, as you can see, for volleyball, and for the fine athletes of China and Cuba. But I want my stale, last-night’s synchro replay tidbits.

So Annie: Are you convinced, finally, that my sport rocks the casbah over your sport? Is that how one spells “casbah”? What is a casbah, anyway?

Annie: A casbah is the native section of a North African city. There is a really good movie with Jean Gabin called Pepe le Moko in which Gabin plays a French gangster who hides in Algiers’s casbah. Very atmospheric.

Am I convinced that synchro rocks? No. The deal-breaker is this solo synchro thing. Something that is done by oneself can not be synchronized; it is clear that this is done merely so that synchro can have primadonnas. I also hate the titles, and the little hats. The fact is, gymnastics is an ancient sport descended from the Greeks. Synchro is descended from little theatrical events in the first half of the 20th century in the United States. That is not very distinguished. Synchro is, however, better than rhythmic gymnastics, which is just gross.

Jen: Oh, you don’t convince me with your lists of tangential hatreds. I can tell you like it and want to make it gymnastics’s VP.

Did you get your text from Obama yet?

Annie: No, Obama clearly hates me. VP Synchro has real foreign policy experience, as its podium had a country that recently legalized gay marriage, a country that recently invaded its neighbor, and a country that recently lied about its underage gymnasts and reeducated some old ladies for requesting a protest permit. President Gymnastics is a little bit more hegemonic. But hey, North Korea won the gold on vault!

Jen: VP Synchro accepts, with thanks.

And with that, we gotsta go. NBC is not giving us what we WANT and DESERVE and WERE PROMISED, and you should see the state we’re in here. Sleep must be had. Right on this couch.

Our nation declares war on NBC and to you we give only love. Good night!

RSS icon Comments


where would one watch of feed of this event?

I always get lost in the tubes when I look for that sort of thing.

Posted by paulus | August 23, 2008 12:20 AM

oh synchronized swimming on??? where??? i love that stuff!

Posted by Kristin Bell | August 23, 2008 12:23 AM

compelling stuff, ladies.

Posted by paulus | August 23, 2008 12:25 AM


Posted by Fnarf | August 23, 2008 12:28 AM

What channel is this on? Not 5 or 99. I'm confused. I want to be excited but I don't know how.

Posted by Fnarf | August 23, 2008 12:30 AM

so i just got my new silver light plug in rocking.

is it the japanese team in blue and white?

is that where we're at?

Posted by paulus | August 23, 2008 12:36 AM

I've got women's volleyball. No thanks.

Posted by Fnarf | August 23, 2008 12:40 AM

ooh, underwater human-catapult shot in slo-mo!

I'm a fan.

Posted by paulus | August 23, 2008 12:42 AM

Sycnhro is coming after volleyball, apparently. We will be speaking about the live feed a little. This is chaos! Sorry.

Posted by annie | August 23, 2008 12:42 AM

I was totally wondering why there was volleyball. So synchro is coming?

Posted by Abby | August 23, 2008 12:44 AM

Japan just swam! They're fighting China for a medal, I'm pretty sure. I dunno. They look like a scraggly bunch up there in their blue and white suits. What are those supposed to be? Doves? Back in my day, we didn't have "scenes" on our suits. But we did have themes.


Posted by Jen Graves | August 23, 2008 12:45 AM

hit that expand button on that screen and you got a pretty sweet feed.

ooooh, spain.

Posted by paulus | August 23, 2008 12:45 AM

I am online with my tragic and stupidly named Silverlight. Am I allowed to trash talk in the comments?

Posted by Fnarf | August 23, 2008 12:46 AM

I think this is Spain. I can't really hear the music, though...

Posted by Abby | August 23, 2008 12:47 AM

The NBC website promises that synchro will be a part of this broadcast, but obviously they're going to finish up this Cuba-China volleyball game first. Lame! The Spanish are in the pool on the live feed.

Posted by annie | August 23, 2008 12:48 AM

spain has the watermelons on their heads, abby.

i dig the inverted scissor-dancing.

Posted by paulus | August 23, 2008 12:48 AM

I like their hats.

Posted by Abby | August 23, 2008 12:49 AM

It's a lot twitchier than I remember synchronized swimming being. Back when I used to watch it in the 1800s.

Posted by Fnarf | August 23, 2008 12:49 AM

¡muy caliente!

Posted by paulus | August 23, 2008 12:50 AM

Is it weird that I think their legs look like arms?

Posted by Fnarf | August 23, 2008 12:51 AM

Why do Spain have those African tribal masks on their suits? Also, it's hard to live-blog and watch the feed at hte same time. :P

Posted by Abby | August 23, 2008 12:53 AM

Oh boy, these look like surly Russians. And yes, there are the fans flying the Russian flag. These guys are the dynasty. From what I just saw, Spain isn't going to touch them. The Spaniards are clearly resting on creativity, but their routine felt messy to me.

Is anybody else being forced to cut to ads at the worst moments?

HEY! Nice split-leg flip into the water.

Sheeet, the Russians are clearly the champions.

Posted by Jen Graves | August 23, 2008 12:54 AM

can you use the word tchaikovskian to describe synchronized-swimming, Jen?

pleeeeease transition into carmina burana!!!

Posted by paulus | August 23, 2008 12:55 AM

That swirly hip wiggling was pretty awesome. I feel like I'm watching a different species. Is this an episode of Firefly?

Posted by Fnarf | August 23, 2008 12:56 AM

The Russians are totally neat, in a really bizarre kind of way.

Posted by Abby | August 23, 2008 12:56 AM

Why are the Russian coaches 750 pounds each?

Posted by Fnarf | August 23, 2008 12:57 AM

Oh, terrible makeup. Why?

Posted by Fnarf | August 23, 2008 12:59 AM

The Russians have very tiny hats, don't they? They must shellac their hair.

Damn. Russia is cleaning the fuck up.

Posted by Abby | August 23, 2008 12:59 AM

Yes, the Russians seem better than the Spaniards. I liked the flipping and twisting. But their suits are lame. What is with blue and white? There should be more of this underwater camera.

Posted by annie | August 23, 2008 12:59 AM

the slo-mo of that opening human-waterspout-into-the-swan bit was pretty amazing.

oh shit. it's over.

Posted by paulus | August 23, 2008 12:59 AM

99.5? The rest should just go home.

Posted by Fnarf | August 23, 2008 1:00 AM

That's all of it? Damn.

Posted by Abby | August 23, 2008 1:00 AM


Posted by paulus | August 23, 2008 1:01 AM

I still find the Spanish outfits inexplicable.

Posted by Abby | August 23, 2008 1:02 AM

That was IT? Two routines? I feel gypped. Plus, their costumes make me feel funny.

Posted by Fnarf | August 23, 2008 1:02 AM

I'm going to go find some fencing highlights.

Posted by Abby | August 23, 2008 1:03 AM

Whoa, that Russki cameraman dude is almost as huge as his lens.

Posted by Fnarf | August 23, 2008 1:04 AM

I'm pretty much in heaven. V-ball on the TV and synch swimming on the laptop. 'Cept now I have to stay up much later to catch the synch teams I missed messing around with Silverlight.

Posted by elm | August 23, 2008 1:05 AM


Posted by Fnarf | August 23, 2008 1:05 AM

i got three routines out of it.

and some amazing screenshots of the slo-mo replays!

Posted by paulus | August 23, 2008 1:06 AM

Fnarf! Paulus! Abby! All! God, I love you people.

The points you are making are so the very best.

Fnarf, ALL synchro coaches are 750 pounds. It is a mystery to all of us. The makeup is fucked. I am against it. I am also against smiling. Completely against it. At certain points in the routines, it is so incongruous with the music (not to mention with what is going on in your burning lungs, legs, and arms) that it resembles that perverse McCain grin following his claim that he's chasing Osama to hell. Up. Setting.

Abby, the shellac is gelatin. Unflavored. I'm serious. I threw a party a few years ago where I did this at home so everyone could see, and it is totally awesome. You make the jello, from the box. You put it on your hair and your bun and then it hardens. Super, super hard. Then, you have to shower in nine thousand degree water in order to melt it out of your hair again. At which point your hair has been, like, über-VO5ed and will look all shiny and gorgeous.

Posted by Jen Graves | August 23, 2008 1:07 AM

Have you noticed that the stands are almost empty for EVERYTHING?

Posted by Fnarf | August 23, 2008 1:07 AM

Jen- that's really, truly amazing. Seriously. I would have loved to see that.

(Also, they do not have the fencing highlights I want on this stupid thing. I don't want men's team sabre. I don't like sabre, damn it.)

Posted by Abby | August 23, 2008 1:09 AM

Shit, I am totally going to do that to my hair. For my birthday.

Posted by Fnarf | August 23, 2008 1:09 AM

We're pretty psyched so we're staying up for more synchro on the TV. I really wish I could see Bob Costas try to post-interview those fierce Russians. He's too afraid.

Posted by annie | August 23, 2008 1:09 AM

I don't have to watch a GE add, I get to watch a Hilton add, and that is all i get to watch because I don't have cable TV, fuck, if I had cable TV I'd watch TV on my TV

Posted by Epimetheus | August 23, 2008 1:10 AM

I have to say the live feed is a thousand times better than the network feed; what with all the commercials and icky TV commentators.

Posted by elm | August 23, 2008 1:10 AM

I never got the GE commercials on my feed either, just lots of synchro. And no video of the foil or épée gold medal matches, just endless men's team sabre.

Posted by Abby | August 23, 2008 1:12 AM

The thrilling footage of the pool now on the live feed brings me to mention: no, there's no touching of the bottom of the pool. I'm not sure about the depth of this one (I think I'd heard 3 meters, when all that world-record talk was happening around the speed swimmers), but the ideal synchro pool would be 10 or more feet deep the entire length. The shallow end just gets in your way as you're egg-beatering.

Posted by Jen Graves | August 23, 2008 1:14 AM

This volleyball is going to go on forever. I've watched so much volleyball at the Olympics, I don't know why.

Posted by Abby | August 23, 2008 1:16 AM

good job, ladies. that was more multi-tasking than I want to be doing at this hour.

agreed, annie. more underwater cam. I like the refraction.

the crowd noticing themselves on the big screen are adorable.

Posted by paulus | August 23, 2008 1:17 AM

I think we were getting the annoying ad interruptions because we are putting too much strain on the internets here. Too bad, we're jealous of all you fast people.

Posted by annie | August 23, 2008 1:17 AM

no shit, jen, no touching bottom?

that makes the tossing all the more impressive.

Posted by paulus | August 23, 2008 1:19 AM

Ahh, there's the épée highlights.

Posted by Abby | August 23, 2008 1:20 AM

Wow, you girls had some focus. I just rode bikes around the neighborhood and threw pinecones at things.

Posted by paulus | August 23, 2008 1:24 AM

Here's how that tossing happens with the NTB and all, Mister P: The ladies all get very very very close to each other underwater, and usually they gather underneath one woman who is laid out on her back with the woman who is going to be thrown or who is going to stand preparing to get up on top of the laying woman with all the others on her underside, pushing her up. Does that make sense?

Generally, what it means, though, is a lot of other people's knees in your face. This is no big deal, except if you lose your noseclips, which is terrifying.

And that is why there is a bulge in the hip of every synchro swimmer's suit. Because there are spare noseclips in there.

Posted by Jen Graves | August 23, 2008 1:24 AM

Beach volleyball is kind of lame. I did, however, like those adorable Latvians who beat the Americans guys in their first match.

Posted by Abby | August 23, 2008 1:27 AM

light as a feather, stiff as a board.

so the noseclips also act as noseguards?

Posted by paulus | August 23, 2008 1:28 AM

awwww, España dulce.

Posted by paulus | August 23, 2008 1:31 AM

You know what's a cool, kind of weird sport? Handball. I wish they were showing handball.

Posted by Abby | August 23, 2008 1:31 AM

I mean, on the TV. I'm watching it on my computer now. It's fascinating.

Posted by Abby | August 23, 2008 1:32 AM

No, the noseclips are totally stress-inducing, because they get easily knocked off and provide actually no support whatsoever to the nose. But that leads me to ANOTHER weird synchro support system: We glue our noseclips on with clear nail polish.

Getting that shit off after is a pain.

Also, I would like to say, while we are on the subject of noseclip trivia, that one of the American synchronized swimmers doesn't wear a noseclip at all. She just pushes her lip up and blocks her nose. I've only met one other swimmer who could do this.

Posted by Jen Graves | August 23, 2008 1:33 AM

Hardcore athletes are freaks of nature, sometimes literally I suppose...

This volleyball is taking way too long. I'm sleepy. And I have soccer to watch in the morning.

Posted by Abby | August 23, 2008 1:35 AM

handball is kinda goofy.

Posted by paulus | August 23, 2008 1:40 AM

I'm angry at this Little Mermaid prequel I keep seeing ads for. I know that this is what Disney does, but I'm still annoyed.

Posted by Abby | August 23, 2008 1:41 AM

Annie and I can barely keep our eyes open anymore, or our brains from casbahs. Good god.

Posted by Jen Graves | August 23, 2008 1:45 AM

I think I fell asleep at the laptop at one point myself, Jen. Zzz.

Posted by Abby | August 23, 2008 1:46 AM

I hope China wins this set because I think that means this will stop, and there can be swimming before I really do fall asleep at the computer.

Posted by Abby | August 23, 2008 1:48 AM

All right girls, I'm out.

This has been very illuminating. I'll send you some of the screenshots I took. You won't believe some of the faces.

Let me know when you live-slog the beach handball event.


Posted by paulus | August 23, 2008 1:49 AM

Sleep well, girls! Thanks for this. I'm off to bed too...

Posted by Abby | August 23, 2008 1:53 AM


Posted by matthew | August 23, 2008 4:25 AM

Wot a loser of a blog and waste of space......

Posted by minndog6 | August 23, 2008 6:23 AM

a casbah is a MARKET.

Posted by maxsolomon@home | August 23, 2008 8:24 AM

Jen Graves thinks Dale Chihuly is an artist.

I seen you today Hipster. You had a cigarette in one hand and a Stranger in the other. You smelled like stinking cigarette smoke as you puffed away feeding your loser addiction. Your ear lobes were sagging with ear plugs that went out of style five years ago. And those tats? The colors have faded and they are starting to merge into an ugly blob. Didn't you ever notice what tats look like on older men? You thought those fuckers would forever be in style? Would you like to wear the same fucking shirt every day for the rest of your life? And that tat on your neck-it shouts LOSER to everyone who sees it. But being a loser is your thing right? That's why you read the Slog.

Posted by Fartin' Poe | August 23, 2008 11:59 PM

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