In most cases, when athletes are caught in the heat of the competition, looking picture-perfect is the last thing on their mind. And who can blame them? Pro athletes spend hours on end training to be the best of the best, and trying to look camera-ready has nothing to do with it.
This is especially the case when it comes to water sports. From synchronized swimming to competitive high diving, these athletes have been known to showcase some pretty awkward and downright hilarious faces while competing. And while we commend them for their hard work, that doesn’t mean we can’t get in some laughs with these perfectly timed photos of water sports athletes in action.
Best Foot Forward
We have trouble imagining what the meaning behind this choreography entailed. Perhaps whoever came up with this synchro routine has a personal vendetta against feet. Or maybe it’s a tribute to The Little Mermaid? Either way, it looks like this synchronized swimmer just discovered her toes for the first time and she is not having it.
After a second look, we now wonder if that is even her foot in the picture…Her contortion skills would be very impressive if that were the case. Alternatively, that is probably a fellow swimmer. Which would make her look of disgust more clear. No one likes a foot in the face.
Brace for Impact
Here’s a snapshot that was taken at the 2020 Summer Olympics which took place in Tokyo Japan. We think we can all agree that one of the most entertaining events to look out for at these games is the Olympic divers doing their thing. These athletes are truly impressive as they perfect the most graceful flips and tricks from unimaginable heights.
But although they look as graceful as ever in real-time, when photographers do manage to capture them mid-dive, you’ll find that the hilarious faces they make are almost as entertaining as the dives themselves. Just take a look at this athlete’s face. He looks like he’s bracing for impact and is only hoping to avoid the dreaded belly flop.
Modern dance has made its way to the pool and it’s just as confusing as on the dance floor. These Olympic synchronized swimmers look truly shocked as if they just saw a ghost. But anyone who has ever encountered synchro before knows very well that it’s all just part of the show.
We’ve got to hand it to them, their acting skills are truly on point. Not only do their facial expressions look utterly shell-shocked, but their hands are also in on it too, almost taking an alien shape. We are afraid of what is going to happen if we stick around for the end of this performance.
Holding on for Dear Life
We have no doubt that Olympic diving is a scary challenge, even for the best divers in the game. And there’s no better evidence of that than the look on this athlete’s face. Once you step off that diving board, there’s really no turning back. Which is something this diver seemed to have realized a bit too late.
Although her face is painted with fear, we have to commend her for maintaining her form. Just look at those pointed toes, straight legs, and squared-off shoulders. Something tells us taking that plunge was more than worth it for this pro. We can only hope she looked more graceful than her face is showcasing when hitting the water.
We have to hand it to these Russian swimmers, when it comes to creativity, they truly pulled all the stops. From their loud, pastel eye makeup, rosy red cheeks, metallic rouge lips, and matching bedazzled bows, these ladies went all out. And that’s only talking about their costume.
When it comes to their moves, they truly decided to swim down a lane less traveled by. We aren’t really sure what’s going on with this strap pull maneuver but we can imagine that it’s not a standard move in the world of synchronized swimming. Who knows, maybe they both were having issues with their straps simultaneously?
This looks less like a synchronized swimming routine and more like two friends playing in the pool. It almost seems like the swimmer on the left snuck up on her friend when she least expected it. She saw an opportunity to catch her off guard and did not hesitate to jump into action.
We can’t describe the other swimmer’s face better than calling it a look of utter shock. Of course, if we take a step back to reality, we know that these facial expressions are all part of the synchro game. It’s a huge part of the performance, but that doesn’t mean we can’t chuckle at how awkward they look.
This one takes us back to the good old days when the whole family would pile up in the car and drive to the community pool. Back then the diving challenge was as simple as seeing who can make the biggest splash and who could hold their breath underwater the longest.
While this snap might bring back those memories, something tells us this diver is not going for a big splash like when we were kids. In reality, what we are seeing is Chinese diver Cao Yuan doing all he can to perfect his skill. He is photographed here competing in the men’s 3m springboard final in the Rio Olympics back in 2016.
If you didn’t have a fear of clowns yet, this one should do the trick. These three enthusiastic athletes are members of Mexico’s synchronized swimming team. Here we see them performing a clown-inspired number for their free routine at the Pan Am Games in Toronto back in 2015.
While we totally get the clown theme, these moves almost make it seem like they are trying to get water out of their ears. Now we know everyone knows what we are talking about. Jumping up and down on one leg and leaning your head to the side is the oldest trick in the book.
There’s No Turning Back
Here we have Sharleen Stratton of Australia competing in the Women’s 3m Springboard semi-final during the FINA World Championships in Shanghai China back in 2011. While Stratton is obviously a pro, if we didn’t know any better, we would say her face is full of regret.
She looks like she is wishing she was back home cozying up on the couch rather than flying through the air, bracing for impact, as the whole world watches. We know that looks can deceive us though, especially when it comes to pictures like these. In reality, Stratton is in her element, pink painted toes and all.
Fish Out of Water
Here we see Canada’s Marie-Pier Boudrreau Gagnon and Elise Marcotte competing in the London Summer Olympics back in 2012. Judging by their suits alone, it looks like the routine was mime inspired, which after one look at their facial expressions, totally checks out.
Now the only thing stranger than seeing synchronized swimmers mid-action is seeing synchronized swimmers mid-action but outside of the pool. They literally look like two fish out of water. We hope they made their way back in the pool shortly after this snap was taken.
Hold On Tight
Here we see Germany’s Stephan Feck competing in the men’s 3m springboard preliminary round at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. And just like all the divers seen on this list, Feck is using all his might to land that dive with perfection.
He is holding on tight and flexing every muscle in his body, and his face muscles are no exception. While we can all agree that both his position and facial expression look hilarious, we have a feeling the funny photo was worth it for the diver.
An Extra Boost
Well, this snap is almost too good to not have been planned. Sometimes in high-stakes competition, all you really need is an extra boost from your teammates. Well, these ladies seem to take that notion very literally and the result is this priceless image.
While we are sure this routine was practiced over and over again, and the swimmer being lifted up into the air was well aware of what was to come, her face definitely says otherwise. Based on the look of shock on her face, she looks like she was caught completely off guard when hoisted up by her teammate.
Who remembers busting out your best duck face every time someone took their phone out to snap a selfie? We know we do, and it seems so do these two synchronized beauties. With their bright blue and green makeup, and their matching halter tops, these two look more than ready for their close-up.
These sun-kissed athletes look like they were just told some hot gossip and they can barely believe what they are hearing. They can’t swim away fast enough to go and tell the rest of the team. Jokes aside, we have got to commend these two for their commitment to the routine.
Don’t Look Down
We can’t help but notice the look of concern on this diver’s face. She is side-eyeing something and we can only hope that what she is seeing are the judges granting her a stellar score. Or maybe she is looking back at the diving board wishing she never jumped off it in the first place.
Regardless of the situation, and despite the hilarious look on this diver’s face, we are more than impressed with the athletic ability exemplified here. Who knew it was possible to keep your feet that close to your face while hurling several miles per hour towards the deep end of a pool?
Croatian water polo player Andro Buslje looks flustered as ever as he competes against Montenegro during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic games. The look on his face makes us wonder if Buslje decided to hit the town and check out what Rio’s nightlife had to offer the night before the big competition.
We’ve definitely all felt the wrath of the dreaded hangover so if that were the case, we definitely empathize. Considering Buslje is a professional athlete that probably worked his entire life to make it to this competition, we highly doubt this is the case though. All we are seeing here is a man lost in the throws of the game.
Someone Forgot Their Glasses
Back on the diving board, here we have Melissa Wu of New South Wales competing in the Women’s 3m Final in Australia, during the 2010 Open Diving Championships. She came a long way to compete and clearly, Wu came to show the world what she’s made of.
While we know that what we are seeing here is a mix of pure effort and wind resistance, taken out of context, Wu kind of reminds us of our grandparents when they are straining to look at their phones without their glasses. Who are we to judge though? The last thing we competed for was who gets to hold the remote.
Trust Fall Gone Wrong
Anyone who has ever taken part in any sort of team-building activity has been forced into what is famously known as a trust fall. Where you are instructed to close your eyes, turn around, and fall backward into the arms of co-workers, classmates, loved ones, or sometimes even complete strangers.
This snapshot looks almost as though the synchronized swimmer photographed was asked to take part in such a trust fall that didn’t go as planned. There was no one behind her to catch her when she fell and her face is telling us exactly how she feels about it.
China’s Qin Kai is seen here competing at the FINA Diving World Cup in London back in 2012. And Kai is clearly giving this competition his all. We all have what’s called an “effort face” but this guy has taken it to another level. Considering he is competing with the pros, the face seems to be paying off.
According to a simple google search, pro high divers can reach a speed of descent of 60 miles per hour. Now that’s pretty freaking fast to be free falling into a pool of water. The gravitational pull alone is enough to make anyone’s face look a bit funny during the descent.
Who You Calling Chicken?
This photo gives a whole new meaning to the chicken dance. We aren’t sure if that’s what she’s going for here, but with that look on her face and those arms flapping to her sides, we simply can’t unsee it. Flightless bird or not, this photo raises many questions.
For one, what is this athlete’s dental secret? We’ve never seen such pearly whites before and we can’t help but be envious. And she is really showing them off with that snarl as she tosses and turns her way around the pool. Surely this whole routine is a sight to be seen.
Here we have Australian diver Briony Cole diving during the semi-finals of the Women’s 3 meter diving competition during the Australian Diving Olympic Team Trials in 2004. Cole would later go on to compete in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics where she won a silver medal.
While we now know she goes on to become an Olympic athlete, if we were to judge solely by this photo, we would never have guessed that Cole was such a success. After one glance at her body language and the look of fear on her face, things don’t seem to be going her way during this dive…Guess that’s why we are the ameteurs.
U.S diver Harrison Jones is seen here competing in the senior 3M springboard preliminary during the 2008 USA Diving Olympic Team Trials. We have to give a huge round of applause to the photographer of this image. How did they even manage to capture Jones from that angle?
Whatever their strategy, it totally worked in capturing the most awkward photo possible of the young athlete. Not only that but we also get a tiny bit of perspective of what its like to dive from such heights. Just seeing the body of water waiting under Jones sends chills down our spines.
Is this some sort of anger management therapy that we have yet to be introduced to? If so, sign us up! These girls seem to be having an anger tantrum mid routine and are not afraid to show it. But what better way to deal with anger than to go for a swim right?
We understand that the art of synchro involves many facial expressions but we still aren’t sure why they have to keep those faces going when they are underwater. Obviously, the photographer that snapped this photo was a little more versed at the sport as they were waiting underwater with their waterproof camera to the ready.
What’s better than capturing a diver mid-dive as he gracefully cascades towards the pool? Capturing two divers, wearing matching speedos, doing just that. This is a great image even without the hilarious faces to top things off. These guys are perfectly in synch and we can only imagine how cool this looked in action.
Lucky for us, the photo is not only striking on its own, but the expressions on these guys faces make it all the better. Both are bracing for impact in their own way while staying perfectly lined up with their teammate, hoping to hit the water at the exact same time.
You Shall Not Pass
Imagine being in the pool when suddenly you see this guy come hurtling at you. This pro swimmer looks like he is ready to defend his lane at all costs. And who are we to stand in his way? Those more acquainted with Olympic athletes might recognize this face, even with the goggles and swim cap.
Showing off his breaststroke is U.S swimmer, Michael Andrew. Here we see him competing in the 100-meter breaststroke at the 2021 Olympic swim trials in Omaha. Andrew not only won this meet qualifying him to compete in the Olympics, but he also set an American record.