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Wednesday, September 27, 2000

Swimmers go too far out

 SYDNEY -- Canadian synchronized swimmers Claire Carver-Dias and Fanny Letourneau gambled and lost Tuesday, but they would roll the dice again.

 The duet, which trains at Etobicoke Lions Club, threw an unconventional routine at the half-filled house.

 If the judges had liked it as much as the crowd, the Canadians would be medal winners today.

 Nobody would have beaten the Russian duet of Olga Brusnikina and Maria Kisseleva, who received 10s from all judges in both technical merit and artistic impression to win the gold medal in a walk.

 Silver went to Japan's Miya Tachibana and Miho Takeda and the bronze to Virginie Dedieu and Myriam Lignot of France.

 Carver-Dias of Toronto and Letourneau of Deux-Montagnes, Que., finished fifth of 12 pairs in the final.

 "We knew there was a risk but we had to do it and it feels good we did," Carver-Dias said of a routine called Madness.

 "Maybe in a couple of years we'll be considered pioneers."

 For the more sophisticated, the Canadian pair's story is undoubtedly profound and compelling. For the rest of us, every duet's story always seems to come back to a shipwreck or a flood.

 Indeed, synchronized swimming, sometimes called Ballroom Drowning or Bathtub Ballet by the unwashed, is more difficult to interpret than conventional ballet.

 Feet sticking out of the water like pearl divers about to hit the deep, they come up waving in unison as though signalling for help from a passing freighter in the mid-Atlantic.

 It's clearly not easy. Try to stay out of the water to your waist without the aid of an inner-tube some time.

 The Canadians' routine was choreographed by a member of the Cirque du Soleil. At one point, Letourneau is talking into Carver-Dias' foot.

 "I'm satisfied we can be different and still do well," Carver-Dias said.

 "It's something we had to do. If we'd done a conventional routine, I feel we would be in the same place, maybe lower."