Turns Out, Sometimes Olympic Artistic Swimmers Look Like Water Zombies

Make no mistake, the dramatic facial expressions of these swimmers are part of their performances and not by accident.

Artistic swimmers may be some of the most elegant athletes at the Olympics, with their strength and ability to dance in water in perfect sync. But when still photos of their performances are captured, the swimmers seem to be possessed by the water and part of a completely different type of performance.

Artistic swimmers Svetlana Romashina and Svetlana Kolesnichenko of Team Russian Olympic Committee won the gold in Tokyo on Wednesday with their arachnid-themed routine to the song "Spiders."

It is the sixth Olympic gold medal for Romashina, who said, “I don’t count medals. I just want to feel this moment.”

China’s Huang Xuechen and Sun Wenyan earned the silver with their snake-themed performance.“We were hoping the snake would beat the spider," said Sun.

Ukraine’s Marta Fedina and Anastasiya Savchuk took the bronze, making them the first to win a medal in the artistic swimming event for their country.

These photos show their intensity and skill in an event that combines athleticism, drama, and precision — all while in a pool.

Two women swimmers perform in the pool at the Tokyo Olympics
A women swimmer performs in the pool at the Tokyo Olympics
A woman swimmer performs in the pool at the Tokyo Olympics
Two women swimmers perform in the pool at the Tokyo Olympics
Two women swimmers perform in the pool at the Tokyo Olympics
Two women swimmers hold their heads above water in the pool and stick their tongues out at the Tokyo Olympics
A woman swimmer performs in the pool at the Tokyo Olympics
A woman swimmer spins her head, hundreds of droplets of water frozen mid-air around her
A woman swimmer performs in the pool at the Tokyo Olympics
An overhead view of a woman swimmer holding her head above water at the Tokyo Olympics
A woman swimmer holds her arms and spread fingers out before her, surrounded by droplets of water
Two women swimmers perform in the pool at the Tokyo Olympics
Two women swimmers have arms around each other in the pool at the Tokyo Olympics
Two women swimmers perform in the pool at the Tokyo Olympics with their arms in front of and behind them
A woman swimmer does a backflip, captured upside-down mid-air
Two women swimmers perform in the pool at the Tokyo Olympics
Two swimmers stand side by side with their arms out behind them
Two women swimmers perform in the pool with their arms to the side
One swimmer stands behind another with their head above the other's in a pool
Two women swimmers stand back to back on a mat with their arms stretched before them in a performance
Two women swimmers are upside-down and underwater in a pool
Two swimmers hold their arms above the water in a pool
Two swimmers perform in the pool at the Tokyo Olympics
Two women swimmers float on their backs and smile, looking up at the camera


Topics in this article