It is always so difficult to be the best at something. It requires a natural born talent, a physical condition, but also the hardest training to push your abilities to the limit. On every sport, there's somebody who is simply above all the others, usually by a mix of the described qualities. There are a lot of examples of individuals, or teams, that have built a legend on their respective sports: Tiger Woods in golf, FC Barcelona in football, Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna in Formula 1, the New Zealand national rugby team, the Miami Dolphins during the Perfect Season, Michael Phelps at swimming, Usain Bolt at athletics... There are many examples of that.
In synchronized swimming, the Barnanovese national team is the legend, and the place where this legend has been forged is the CEINS (ITCSS on its English acronym, Intensive Training Center for Synchronized Swimming), the place where 10 chosen girls from a large array of aspring swimmers can become an important part of this legend. Accepting this challenge means almost leaving your former life behind and live 24/7 on the ITCSS, surrounded by a small group of 14-16 more people and living one only thing: swimming.
The ITCSS is usually known by the national and foreign media as the "Factory of Dreams" because all the success achieved by the synchro swimmers during these years. It is really difficult to know what goes on inside the ITCSS, as it is one of the most hermetic places in Barnanova. No media can get inside and the only pictures and footage crossing the ITCSS gates is carefully chosen by the national team staff to make sure that no new moves and routines leak to the outside. Secrecy is an important part of this business.
A walk along the "Medals corridor" is a kind of legendary tale written by unbeatable women. An overwhelming gallery of skyrocketing scores at world championships, European championships and, where the true glory is forged, the Simlympics.
We have to go back years ago, to the XII Simlympiad in Sarnia City. The Barnanovese synchro team had worked hard on the Aquacenter training pool, but it wasn't enough to go beyond the minimum scores to have an access to the Simlympic competition. This was such a hard hit for the Barnanovese Swimming Federation, who had a lot of hope put on the synchro team, that decided to erect the ITCSS. Its construction was carried in a record time, halfway between the Sant Just district and the national border; and the girls trained since then during four years with a single idea on mind: Gold or nothing. In fact, this slogan is painted in the gate leading to the training pool on its Catalan version "Or o res".
The XIII Simlympiad, in Chihiro, was the true trial for a team and for an entire nation, who was beginning to know what was that sport called synchronized swimming. The gold medal came in the duet competition, but the whole team had a tremendous hit when they did not qualify for the team competition finale.
After the games, swimmers Clara Muntalà and Blanca Candela confessed that they would have exchanged their gold medals to compete in the team finale with the 6 other girls.
After Chihiro, the whole country was more conscious of what the girls had been doing, and this was translated in a never seen before meda support.
Four years later, the XIV Simlympics started in Erikkson, Insulo, with a clear goal, entering and winning the team competition. After Chihiro, the "Gold or nothing" slogan was engraved in the pool gate and in the swimmer's mind. It was clearly shown that, these games, a bit more of a million people was swimming with them.
The gold medal came again, but only for Clara and Blanca on Day 12 of competition. Day 13, when the team qualifiers were held, was, perhaps, the hardest hit this team has ever had. Again, there was no medal option in the teams competition, 6 girls who had been training for 4 more years for "nothing".
They all said they were happy that Clara and Blanca had achieved their second gold medal, but they all confessed they weren't. They wanted these gold medals.
Because of their old age, Clara Muntalà and Blanca Candela left the team and two new girls took the team's leadership. They were, with their two gold medals, among the most successful sportspersons in Barnanovese history, but always carrying the burden of never won a medal with the whole team.
Lots of things changed in the ITCSS in four years, two new girls were added and new technicians joined the team. The Federation was determined to be successful in both disciplines, the whole center was overhauled and discipline got even harder.
The glory came in New Chandler, during the XV Simlympics. During this days, the whole nation had in mind the "Gold or nothing" motto, and the synchro competitions broke audience records. New Chandler Simlympics were a true success for all Barnanovese sport, but there would haven't been a success if it wasn't by the synchro contribution. Out of the 8 won medals, 2 belong to the synchronized swimming.
Ruteria won the gold medal in the last performance of the duet competition, which was quite a hit for the girls, who thought that a new duet gold was something unavoidable.
The true glory came two days later, in the teams competition. Barnanova lead the ranking in the technical routine, but the free routine was the performance that opened the eyes to the world. Both routines had a combined score 1,965 points higher than Daun Mew, second qualifier, and the technical routine is still remembered as one of the most impressive performances ever in a synchronized swimming pool, because of its spectacular and brand new moves.
For the first time, Barnanova had won medals in both disciplines, the media began knowing the synchro team as the "Dreamgirls" and recieved as heros at the airport due to their performance.
During four more years lived being the current Simlympic synchronized swimming team champions, and trained hard to keep this award four more years. Nothing changed in the team internal management and free routines got more risqué, new spectacular stuff were shown at the XVI Simlympics in Das'Gotn, the most successful Simlympics ever for Barnanova.
The duet team rose to the podium's highest stage once again, but the team couldn't qualify for the team finale. The drama came back into the ITCSS after the Simlympics. Again, another gold that was simply "not enough"
The teams qualifiers were a complete mess, the girls later admitted having comitted several errors that had been severely punished by the judges.
There was no glory but for Agnés Gutiérrez and Gianna Domenicali, gold medal winners. Despite the mistake, they kept being the "Dreamgirls" and kept having the support of an entire nation. If they could avoid these mistakes in the following Simlympics, they would have no rival.
The XVII Simlympics in Atarashima were, again, the "Gold or nothing" games. The time was now. The team recieved the farewell of thousands at the airport, and everybody knew these would be the Simlympics. Technically and artistically, the Barnanovese were well above the rest of competitors, but the smallest mistake could ruin again all the work. Fortunately, the girls had learnt a lot from the Das'Gotn experience.
Finally, the gods of synchronized swimming were fair with the Barnanovese Dreamgirls and the legend was certified as a legend.
For the first time, the first nation monopolized the duet and team gold medals. The difference between Barnanova and Aeropoli was 2.025 points, an insulting difference; meanwhile the teams competition caused more than one heart attack in Ellis Valley when the Barnanovese results were announced (sorry, Ben!)
It was difficult to present a more challenging and surprising performance than the one shown in New Chandler, but the synchronized swimming team got even further this time. The Dreamgirls were finally the Golden Girls, and the whole nation celebrated this success. Again thousands recieved the synchro team at the airport, they were the new national heros.
Despite this, after some well-deserved holidays, the girls got back to work at the ITSCC. Because glory doesn't grow on trees.