If you are looking for a graceful and sociable water sport to keep you fit and slender during the summer, then synchronised swimming is the one for you. Synchronised swimming is dancing in the water to music. The sport began in the 19th century as a performance combining swimming and ballet. Its popularity rose throughout the last century thanks to Hollywood aqua musicals in the 1950s and '60s. In 1984, it became a recognised sport worldwide when it debuted at the Olympics in Los Angeles. Like ballet, synchronised swimming appeals particularly to girls because of its elegant movements. Take the training session of the junior SAR national squad at a swimming pool in Sham Shui Po earlier this month. The girls on the squad dived into the water almost without a splash. Their bodies glided swiftly like dolphins under the water before they started performing feats of dexterity and strength. At one point, the girls floated on their backs and raised their legs into the air - a pose as graceful as that of a ballerina. The difference between synchronised swimming and ballet dancing is that most of the moves are completed upside-down in the water. According to Kit Chan Kit-ching, the chief coach of the SAR national squad, this makes practising the sport much harder than dancing. 'Ballet is difficult, but at least you can stand on the ground and breathe,' says Chan. 'Synchronised swimming is not easy as it involves elements of sport and performing arts.' The sport is athletic as much as artistic. To perform a back layout, which means lying on one's back on the surface of the water, the swimmer must keep sculling with both hands to support her body. This requires a combination of strength, agility and determination. 'Stretching is painful and you need to hold your breath under the water,' says Chan. '[Synchronised swimmers must have] the grit to overcome their own weaknesses and face difficulties.' In addition to being good athletes and swimmers, synchronised swimmers must also be capable dancers who are sensitive to music and rhythm. 'During the winter we arrange dancing sessions for students. I like traditional Chinese dancing because its exercises, such as stretching, are very good for building up the [body's] foundations,' says Chan. 'We also hire trainers to do ballet and modern dance sessions so that the girls can experience other dancing styles as well.' Despite the tough training regimen, Chan says the sport is worth practising if you want to become more elegant and graceful. 'It can improve the curves of your body ... and can make the body firmer and tighter. The sport is all about grace and will make swimmers more elegant.' The Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association will hold a synchronised swimming fun day on June 5 from 3-6pm at the Kowloon Park Swimming Pool for those aged six or above who can swim. For inquiries, please call 2572 8594.