Behind the Victorian facade of the City University Baths in London, one of the world's youngest sports is developing.
Behind the Victorian facade of the City University Baths in London, one of the world's youngest sports is developing. It's there that former trapeze artist Dawn Zajac puts the British synchronised swimming team through its paces, building its repertoire and its confidence.
The eight-member team - average age 17 years - has its sights set on the world championships in Belgrade, to be held from 1 to 4 September. The British girls are already undisputed champions in Europe, and they hope the world championships will give them international fame.
In Britain, synchronised swimming ("synchro", as it's known) is only as old a Mrs. Zajac's own club -- the Seymour Synchronised Swimming School, which was formed 12 years ago. The first national championships were held six years after the school's formation. Mrs. Zajac says that as the sport is young, its enthusiasts badly need recognition to boost their morals. That' where the world title comes in.
The style of "synchre" swimming may seem akin to ballet, but Mrs. Zajac says it is allied more to gymnastics. She was trained in Hollywood, and draws largely on her circus background for her routines. The one now being polished for the championships is appropriately called "The Circus" - and features the team in sequined costumes and plumed head-dresses.
There are now 60 clubs throughout Britain and the average ago of members reduces as the popularity of the sport increases. Mrs. Zajac has on four-year-old in training and several 12-year-old are bout to break into the big time, and the national team.