Pageantry and Water Sports


I had come in search of the meaning of synchronized swimming in modern America. Over the course of a week, I had gotten bored with the human body’s physical excellence. Maybe that was because, despite the spectacle at this level, even flawlessness becomes mundane. Without the threat of failure, watching people perfectly execute the seemingly impossible becomes, to be blunt, boring after an hour of wonder and shock. But beyond the bright lights of the Strip, and the hundred-dollar-a-ticket shows meant to lure in tourists, between bouts of gambling and bingeing at buffets, the true heart of synchronized swimming beckoned in the distance. I just needed to find it.

Elisabeth Donnelly on synchronized swimming in America.

Lyz's writing has been published in the New York Times Motherlode, Jezebel, Aeon, Pacific Standard, and others. Her book on midwestern churches is forthcoming from Indiana University Press. She has her MFA from Lesley and skulks about on Twitter @lyzl. Lyz is a member of The Rumpus Advisory Board and a full-time staff writer for the Columbia Journalism Review. More from this author →