As beautiful and graceful as the sport of synchronized swimming can appear on top of the water, there is an ever-present danger that lurks, quite literally, just beneath the surface. Under the water, a maze of arms and legs intertwine and tangle, which often results in a competitor’s body, including one’s head, getting thrashed and kicked several times during practice or a competition.
In a surprising statistic, Bill Moreau, Managing Director for Sports Medicine for the USOC, estimates that about 50% of synchronized swimmers he has supervised over his career has sustained a concussion. Myrian Glez, Chief Executive of USA Synchro recently told The New York Times that the figure is actually quite higher.
In her experience, Glez says, “100 percent of my athletes will get a concussion at some point. It might be minor, might be more serious, but at some point or another, they will get hit.”
More often highlighted in the context of American football players in recent years, concussions are a clear and present danger for synchronized swimmers, and one whose risk is actually increasing. Due to the evolving rules of the sport, more points are earned during a routine when teammates move closer together in the water, performing more complex throwing moves.
‘The closer you swim to each other, the more difficult it is because you’re battling each other in the pool, and that’s where the danger is,” says U.S. Olympic synchronized swimmer Mariya Koroleva. (The New York Times)