Commonwealth Games 2002
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Swimming Wednesday, 5 June, 2002, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
Canada on course for glory
Competitors in action in the synchronised swimming at the Sydney Olympics
Fifty per cent of the routine is underwater
Synchronised swimming has been a one-sided affair in the Commonwealth Games and that shows few signs of changing.

The sport debuted back in 1986 in Edinburgh and Canada have won eight out of a possible eight gold medals in that time.

The star of the Manchester Games will be Claire Carver-Dias, who won a bronze in the duet at the synchronised swimming at the World Championships and was fifth in the solo event.

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I don't mean to sound pessimistic but silver is the realistic goal
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Gayle Adamson

Four years ago, her fellow countrywomen took double gold ahead of Australia and England respectively in both disciplines.

Australia, courtesy of Naomi Young, and England's Gayle Adamson and Katie Hooper are expected to battle it out for silver this time around.

Adamson warned: "The Canadians are ranked third in the world and are the overwhelming favourites. I don't mean to sound pessimistic but silver is the realistic goal.

"I'll be going for that in both the solo and duet."

The other candidates for a medal are the little-known Malaysians, who were fourth in Kuala Lumpur four years ago and have since hired a highly rated Chinese coach.

Synchronised swimming mirrors the lay-out and set-up in ice skating.

In both the solo and duet disciplines, competitors must perform both a technical program, which must include certain set elements, and a free programme, which can take any shape.

The technical routine lasts two minutes (2m 20sec in the duet) while the free program is three minutes long (30 seconds longer in the duet). As much as 50% of that time is spent underwater.

Canada's Claire Carver-Dias (bottom) and Fanny Letourneau
Canada are expected to take double gold

Marks are awarded out of a possible 10 points by a panel of 10 judges and the highest and lowest scores are discarded.

Five of the judges give marks for artistic impression which includes how far the performer travels in the pool and choreography.

The other five award points for technical merit - i.e. how hard the routine is and how well they do it.

The key aspect of every routine is that the swimmers cannot look tired at any stage - marks will be awarded against that.

But, the well-known image of synchronised swimmers smiling throughout a performance is changing, with expressions now supposed to reflect the mood of the music.

Among the more complex manoeuvres to carry out are the aurora and the combined spin.

Adamson explained: "For the aurora we have to do a 360-degree turn in a knife position, which is a very flexible back position.

"The combined spin is where you start off upside in a vertical position as high as you can be - to the middle of the thigh.

"You then have to spin down to your ankles and then have to come back to that high position again."

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05 Jun 02 | Swimming
05 Jun 02 | Swimming
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