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Chinese male synchronized swimmer makes debut at FINA Worlds

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-07-24 14:07
BUDAPEST - Shi Haoyu swung in the pool together with partner Sheng Shuwen, writing a piece of history as the first Chinese male swimmer ever showing up at the synchronized swimming event at an FINA World Championships.

Shi, who turns 16 in October, trained as a swimmer since a kid, but was persuaded by coach Lu Liya to try synchronized swimming three years ago, as two mixed duet events were added to the 2015 World Championships in Kazan.

"His legs are long and straight, every girl will envy him for his beautiful legs," said Sheng, who found the mixed duet of synchronized swimming was full of challenges and creativity. What's more, the boy, seven years younger than her, helps her find back her passion for the sport.

"Of course I love synchronized swimming. But after years of training, I treat it more like a career or a duty," said Sheng after Friday's preliminary of the mixed duet free event, where the Chinese duo ranked eighth in 11 pairs of competitors. One day later, the pair also finished eighth in the final.

"I was touched by his enthusiasm for synchronized swimming," added Sheng. "And I felt my passion inside again since practicing with him."

Shi, shy and quiet, said he liked watching synchronized swimming before he was involved in the sport and he didn't hesitated at all when the coach asked him to have a try.

"I also have the support from my parents. They will watch my competitions and even give me advices frequently," said Shi, whose mother is an accountant and father a driver. Shi's nine-year-old brother is also practicing synchronized swimming.

As a debutant, Shi said he had no stage fright. "For me, the World Championships was has nothing special. But it's a bigger stage for us to show China's synchronized swimming," said Shi.

Their routine was called "Swing Night". "It tells a romantic a story. A man and a woman have crushes on each other as they meet in a party," described Sheng.

"At first, he was even too shy to gaze at me. And I had to play the role of the man and asked him to imitate my acting," said Sheng.

"Gradually, I have my understanding about the routine and I could lead my partner to perform," said Shi.

Although some people might not appreciate male synchronized swimmers, Shi said he didn't care about it at all.

"When people are watching me, I just tell myself that they all admire my performance," said Shi.

Shi said his idol was veteran Bill May, who took the first ever mixed duet world title together with Christina Jones in Kazan 2015.

"I was impressed by his dramatic and powerful movements when I was watching the competition two years ago." said Shi.

Shi met May and had a short conversation with the 38-year-old American. "We didn't talk too much, but he said we were great," said Shi.

May was not disappointed by the two bronze medals he earned this time, and said he was happy to see more male synchronized swimmer in Budapest.

May always said that he hoped that he could hang on until mixed duet is included in Olympic Games.

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