WOMEN

19 Photos That Show The Unbelievable Strength Of Synchronized Swimmers

It's not makeup. It's warpaint.
Nada Daabousova and Jana Labathova, representing Slovakia, compete at the Rio Olympics on Sunday. 
Nada Daabousova and Jana Labathova, representing Slovakia, compete at the Rio Olympics on Sunday. 

Synchronized swimmers might be the most underrated athletes at the Olympic Games.

In performing a sport that The New York Times’s Sarah Lyall described as one “that lies in the corner of the Twilight Zone where Kabuki opera meets advanced underwater survival,” the women who compete ― and it is only women who do so ― are more than just pretty faces in waterproof makeup. They are absolutely stellar athletes.

Like gymnasts, their scores rely heavily on the aspect of performance. But instead of beams and floors and bars, they perform their routines bouncing off of nothing but their own physical strength from the middle of a 9-foot deep pool. And while their facial expressions have served as fodder for many a listicle, their unreal athleticism often goes unacknowledged.  

In honor of their tremendous skills and phenomenal strength, here are 19 pictures that prove just how fierce these athletes truly are. 

  • 1 China’s Huang Xuechen and Sun Wenyan compete in the Duets Free Routine preliminaries in Rio on Sunday.
    AFP/Getty Images
  • 2 Russia’s Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina perform in Rio on Sunday.
    CHRISTOPHE SIMON via Getty Images
  • 3 Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina again.
    MARTIN BUREAU via Getty Images
  • 4 Anita Alvarez and Mariya Koroleva of Team USA compete on Tuesday.
    AFP/Getty Images
  • 5 Slovakia’s Nada Daabousova and Jana Labathova performing on Sunday.
    CHRISTOPHE SIMON via Getty Images
  • 6 Greece’s Evangelia Papazoglou and Evangelia Platanioti on Sunday.
    MARTIN BUREAU via Getty Images
  • 7 Ukraine’s Lolita Ananasova and Anna Voloshyna competing on Tuesday.
    AFP/Getty Images
  • 8 Italy’s Costanza Ferro and Linda Cerruti, captured by an underwater camera, on Tuesday.
    AFP/Getty Images
  • 9 Israel’s Anastasia Gloushkov Leventhal and Ievegeniia Tetelbaum performing on Sunday.
    MARTIN BUREAU via Getty Images
  • 10 Anna Voloshyna of Ukraine performing on Sunday.
    Al Bello via Getty Images
  • 11 Team USA’s Anita Alvarez and Mariya Koroleva make a splash on Sunday.
    MARTIN BUREAU via Getty Images
  • 12 Spain’s Ona Carbonell Ballestero and Gemma Mengual perform on Monday.
    MARTIN BUREAU via Getty Images
  • 13 Another shot of Spain’s Ona Carbonell Ballestero and Gemma Mengual, performing on Sunday.
    MARTIN BUREAU via Getty Images
  • 14 Italy’s Costanza Ferro and Linda Cerruti perform on Monday in Rio.
    FRANCOIS-XAVIER MARIT via Getty Images
  • 15 Jacqueline Simoneau and Karine Thomas, who represent Canada, perform in Rio on Monday.
    MARTIN BUREAU via Getty Images
  • 16 Iryna Limanouskaya and Veronika Yesipovich of Belarus compete in the Women’s Duets in Rio on Sunday.
    Clive Rose via Getty Images
  • 17 Russia’s Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina perform on Sunday.
    Al Bello via Getty Images
  • 18 China’s Huang Xuechen and Sun Wenyan captured underwater in their performance on Monday.
    AFP/Getty Images
  • 19 Another shot of Team China’s China’s Huang Xuechen and Sun Wenyan Monday performance.
    MARTIN BUREAU via Getty Images

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