Australian flora and fauna inspire synchro team to new heights

Published 20 August 2016 (AEDT)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 19: Team Australia competes in the Synchronised Swimming Teams Free Routine on Day 14 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre on August 19, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. © 2016 Getty Images

SYNCHRONISED SWIMMING: After an ACDC routine four years ago, Australia’s synchronised swimming team was intent on making its mark on the world stage with another parochial routine at Rio 2016.

Walking out to the sounds of a didgeridoo and set to the soundtrack from Australia and Crocodile Dundee for their team free event, they achieved just that.

“We tried to showcase Australia’s unique fauna and flora,” captain Bianca Hammett said.

“For our walk-in we worked with an Aboriginal elder and he taught us to walk like an emu.”

It was an emotional ending to competition for Australia’s synchronised swimming team for Hammett.

“It’s probably the last time I’ll do ever do a competition and it’s the Olympics so I wanted to go out on a high.

“I’m just really happy. I’m happy with how the team went at this competition, I’m happy with these swims, I’m retiring after this event. That was my last swim ever so I’m full of joy.”

The routine, scoring 149.500 in the second and final event of the competition to finish in eighth place, was a combination of months of hard work.

“We started choreography for that routine in January, working with new coach Lilianne Grenier since January. Really since April the team has basically centralised between WAIS and the AIS,” Hammett said.

While the team didn’t challenge the team medal winners, Russia (gold), China (silver) and Japan (bronze) there were strong signs that the team will be much stronger at Tokyo and will continue to push their main rival Egypt, who finished seventh at the Games.

“We have definitely narrowed the gap. Hopefully in four years’ time we’re going to get them," Hammett said

“They beat us at London and at the World Championships by more so this is a bit more.”

And while for Hammett this was the last hurrah, she hopes much of the young team will stay on to continue Australia’s growing tradition in the sport at the next Games.

“I’m hoping a lot of them stay on. I think at last half of them will.”

For Hammett her next dream is calling, one which involves a very apt calling, back to university to study wildlife science.

Annie Kearney

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