Before the show had even started, there was a show. Pre-empting the performance inside, Brighton-based Maracatu drumming and dance troupe were a riot of sound and colour outside the pool. Instead of queuing, we were dancing.
Troupe after troupe of gloriously elegantly clad female swimmers dived, summersaulted and splashed their way into our hearts.
We snaked our way up to the viewing area, a sea of red plastic chairs with a view of an empty pool. Amongst the families of the swimmers, were those new to the synchrosised swimming scene. We wondered whether the large Maractu troupe could really be about to start banging away inside the reverberant swimming pool walls.
The first of the eight routines was the UK. Union jack swimming hats were flavor of the day. Elegant female swimmers swished and splashed around like well-trained dolphins, amazing us with their precision. Tracks played, some loosely based, others very tenuously based on the theme country. When we reached Italy, I wondered whether red costumes and red flowers didn’t rather evoke Spain. Then Mambo Italiano played through the speakers and our puzzlement was cast aside. Mambo being a typical Italian genre of course.
Troupe after troupe of gloriously elegantly clad female swimmers dived, summersaulted and splashed their way into our hearts. Particularly moving were the performances by the senior and junior swimmers. Some had dedicated hundreds of hours to swimming in neat rows, circles and stars with other swimmers. On the other flipper, some of the youngest struggled to keep their heads above the water. I could see why the pool had employed a lifeguard, especially as some of the costumes looked a bit cumbersome.
For the U.S.A, swimmers wore star spangled and sleeved swimming costumes, with cowboy hats to match. One of the male lifeguards at the swimming pool, also a keen synchronised swimmer, had made disguised appearances amongst the swirling schools of women and girls throughout; only distinguishable by the occasional missing flower on a hat. Now, he dressed up as Elvis on a floating podium, pushed by some of the swimmers. He didn’t jump in, but did mime the Viva Las Vegas with gusto.
With a finale featuring Maracatu, and all the swimmers together in a swirling circle in the centre of the pool, this is a show not to be missed. I fully intend to go again next year.