When they step out into the Aquatics Centre at today’s synchronised swimming final, Jenna Randall and Olivia Federici will make history.
They’ll be the first British pair to mix with the world’s elite at an Olympic Games since Barcelona in 1992.
The feat is made all the more impressive by the fact Britain only started taking the sport seriously five years ago.The Russian duo of Svetlana Romashina and Russia’s Natalia Ishchenko will take a convincing lead going into tomorrow’s final, where they’re expected to win gold.
It might possibly be the biggest shock of the Games if they don’t triumph. Russia has totally dominated the sport for more than a decade, winning every duet and team Olympic gold dating back to Sydney in 2000.
But Britain are making huge strides in the sport since Biz Price was appointed national performance director in 2007.
In September of that year a high performance centre was set up at army barracks in Aldershot and central funding allowed the athletes to go full-time.
This has reaped huge rewards over a relatively short space of time. Randall and Federici were 14th a year later at the Beijing Games, the first Britons to compete in synchro since 1992 when Kerry Shacklock and Laila Vakil finished sixth.
They managed second at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and last year saw the pair finish 10th in the technical routine at the World Championships in Shanghai.
Ninth place in both the technical and free routines in London has proved enough to book their place in the top 12 nations and advance to the final, where they’ll perform to a medley of music by the Chemical Brothers and Ryan Amon.
Randall and Federici may not be ready to contend for medals, but they’ve already done enough to captivate a home crowd – who have greeted them with raucous cheers every time they’ve stepped out into the Aquatic Centre.
Speaking after Sunday’s first heat, Randall said: ‘Hearing the crowd cheer for us when we were walking out was fantastic, it gave us that extra little buzz when we were swimming.’
Federici echoed her team-mate’s sentiments over the crowd, adding that once the routine starts they are locked in to their routine.
She said: ‘We are focused on each other and the music and what we are doing.
‘When you start and stop you really feel it, it’s good.
‘I think sticking to our preparation, we do these routines day-in, day-out.
‘We train eight hours a day, we are constantly doing these routines so its ingrained in us and it makes easier for us to just go out and perform.
‘It felt like a good swim, but we’ve got corrections we need to do.’