Keeping Score

Synchronized Swimming: No Joke

TIME gets a lesson in synchronized swimming

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In a story in this week’s magazine, available to TIME subscribers, we explore the financial challenges facing athletes in low-revenue Olympic sports like synchronized swimming. The U.S. is one of the few countries in which the government does not fund the Olympic team. Given the current political and economic environment, that’s not going to change. “You can say that at a time when we have people out of work,” says Scott Blackmun, CEO of the USOC, “it is not a time to be investing in sports programs.”

And in an accompanying video, the U.S. synchronized swimming team gamely offered me a tutorial. The sport is often mocked, thanks in large part to this classic Martin Short-Harry Shearer Saturday Night Live skit.

But keep in mind: the comedians “performed” in the shallow end of the pool. Olympic synchronized swimming is done in the deep end, so the ability to execute athletic moves while treading water requires great strength and endurance.

See for yourself. And thanks to the U.S. swimmers for their generosity and sportsmanship.