With a first name that means "wave" in Catalan, perhaps Ona Carbonell was destined to pursue a career in water sports.
And for a self-confessed "mermaid," synchronized swimming provides the ideal escape.
"I don't know why but the water, for me, it's perfect. I feel better inside the water than outside," Carbonell told CNN's Human to Hero series.
She has become Spain's most successful synchronized swimmer, collecting two Olympic medals and more than a dozen at the world championships.
"You can do anything -- you can create and (be) very original. It's an artistic sport," she added.
Then there's the glitzy outfits -- and the hair, which is lacquered into a hard gloss with gelatine to keep it styled in the water.
Like Venus Williams in tennis, Carbonell -- who is studying fashion design at university -- and her teammates play a role in creating the costumes they wear.
The collaborative approach also applies to choosing music to routines and developing the choreography along with their coaches.
Carbonell's big tune is "Barcelona" -- the ode to her home city sung by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe, to which she performed at July's world championships in the Catalan capital.
"It's the music of Olympics '92 and it's very nice song and very nice choreography -- I think it's very beautiful," Carbonell explains.
"The costume is like Gaudi -- in Barcelona very famous -- and blue and shiny like Montserrat Caballe when she sings."
The 2013 world championships were a special moment for the 23-year-old. She was able to get close to the countries now dominating the sport, Russia and China, as she earned seven podium placings across the individual and team events.
But it's clear that for Carbonell, picking up silverware isn't her lone goal.
Being underwater for 20 seconds at a time -- unable to even communicate with your partner -- adds to the feeling of peaceful isolation.
It's an escape, however, that requires its participants to combine artistic elements with strength and technique, similar to rhythmic gymnastics or figure skating. On average Carbonell suspects she spends 10 hours in the pool a day -- a necessary workload if she is to catch her Russian and Chinese rivals.
While twisting, turning and lifting, competitors have to make sure the strain doesn't show on their well-manicured faces -- sometimes they put the waterproof makeup on themselves but on other occasions they have makeup artists. Any sign of straining and the judges are sure to pounce.
The degree of difficulty is thus high.
Growing up in Barcelona, the vibrant city in northeastern Spain that rests by the Mediterranean Sea, paved the way for Carbonell's development in "synchro."
"When I was seven I did rhythmic gymnastics," she recalls. "When I was nine I started synchronized swimming because I liked the water a lot. I spent a lot of hours in the sea."
It prepared her well for a life in the pool, which requires strong stamina.
"There are many hard things in synchronized swimming but the hardest is to hold our breath inside the water," Carbonell says. "When we go up and breathe, you have to do a good face and smile.
"We have to work a lot to hold our breath because many moves in the performance are like 20 seconds without a breath.
"We don't communicate -- it's impossible. Sometimes when we don't have music we speak inside the water but it's very difficult and without goggles you see very bad.
"You have to believe in each other."
In the team format that consists of eight swimmers -- one of the two Olympic disciplines, while there are seven formats at the world championships -- Carbonell and company are aided by underwater speakers.