A clothing fastener and a comedic nod to the British monarchy is the combination Elise Marcotte and Marie-Pier Boudreau-Gagnon believe will get them on the Olympic podium this summer.
Canada’s synchronized swimming duo has unveiled a few elements — the music, costumes and themes — of the Olympic duets they’ll perform this summer in London. Their technical routine is “Zipper” and their free duet is “Jester.”
Marcotte, from L’Ancienne-Lorette, Que., and Boudreau-Gagnon, from Riviere-du-Loup, Que., were fourth at last year’s world championship and won gold at the 2011 Pan American Games to qualify for London.
They didn’t perform their Olympic routines Saturday for more than 200 young synchronized swimmers competing at a regional event in Calgary. The Canadians don’t want the rest of the world knowing what they’re up to.
Marcotte, 23, and Boudreau-Gagnon, 29, think they can make a bigger splash and impress the judges by unveiling their routines in competition for the first time in London.
“For now, we’re in fourth place,” Marcotte pointed out. “To make the difference in August this summer, we really need to have something special and keeping it as a secret makes a spark around it.
“That special effect we’re going to have at the Olympics, to show it for the first time, it can make that difference that can get us on the podium.”
The two women watched a test event in London in April and scouted the routines of the Russians, Spaniards and Japanese. Because they’ve already qualified, Marcotte and Boudreau-Gagnon didn’t compete.
“It’s good for us to know what they’re doing without them knowing what we’re doing,” Marcotte explained.
Added Boudreau-Gagnon: “It’s an artistic sport so as soon as you see something cool, you want to try to do that too. For us to hide it, it can prevent that and we’re going arrive with something new and no one is going to steal it before.”
Canada has won eight medals in synchronized swimming since the sport made its Olympic debut in 1984. Carolyn Waldo, in 1988, and Sylvie Frechette, in 1992, won solo gold medals before the individual event was replaced by the team event. Waldo and Calgary’s Michelle Cameron also won duet gold in 1988.
Canada hasn’t won a synchronized swim medal since bronze in the team event in 2000. The program is trying to re-gain ground on Russia, Spain and Japan.
Marcotte and Boudreau-Gagnon perform Zipper on Aug. 5 and Jester on Aug. 6. The 12 countries with the best scores advance to the final Aug. 7 when they perform their free routine again. Medals will be determined by scores for all three performances.
Canada also competes in the team event Aug. 9-10. Marcotte, Boudreau-Gagnon and the rest of the Canadian team are currently training up to 50 hours a week in Montreal.
Zipper will be performed to a remixed version of George Granz’s “Din Daa Daa.” The technical event requires pairs to perform certain compulsory moves.
“We have a zipper on our suit and it’s really, really fast music,” Marcotte said. “We really want to show our elements. It’s one of the strengths of Marie-Pier and I, being really strong in elements.”
Jester is a three-and-a-half-minute test of their lung capacity and acting ability. It will be performed to a Cirque du Soleil’s “La Nouba” soundtrack.
“The judges asked us to be more emotional in our program and I think the Jester (does it),” Boudreau-Gagnon said. “We have drama, comedy and it’s technical at the same time.”
“It’s the hardest routine I’ve ever swum, the Jester, but I think it’s the coolest one too. We are not breathing a lot. By the end it’s like non-stop.”
The Canadians are playing to the London crowd with Jester, a figure who entertained in the court of European monarchy.
“The jester is a little wink to the king and the queen with the history of England,” Marcotte said.
The national team swimmers were in Calgary to meet and greet the young synchronized swimmers competing there, as well speak at the event’s closing banquet.