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What is Synchronised Swimming?


Synchronised swimming is a complex, challenging, but really fun sport.

Swimmers can compete both individually and in team events, which test their skills, strength, flexibility, co-ordination and artistic interpretation.

Benefits of synchro include physical fitness and a feeling of well-being; self-confidence; developing a sense of discipline and positive attitude; the ability to deal with success and failure; general social skills and learning to work as part of a team.


​Some of the Rules...

The basic rules are really simple. Here are a few examples...

  • No Touching the Bottom of the Pool - One of the things which makes the lifts all the more impressive is that synchronised swimmers are not allowed to touch the bottom of the pool at any point during their routines.

  • No Goggles - Another restriction during synchronised swimming routines is goggles. However, swimmers in figures competitions are permitted to wear them

  • Stick to the Schedule - Routines can be anything from two and a half minutes to five minutes long, depending on whether they are performed alone or as part of a team. However, swimmers are penalised if they take 15 seconds fewer or longer than the specified time

Synchro Routines

There are four main categories of competition...


  • Solos - where an individual swimmer will synchronise with the music

  • Duets - where two swimmers co-ordinate in time to the music

  • Team - with up to seven other athletes in time to the music

  • Combination - known as 'combos' where up to ten swimmers perform together to music but with segments where different swimmers will perform mini solos, duets and in smaller groups alongside the rest.


In most senior competitions, swimmers perform two routines for the judges, one technical and one free.

Technical and Free Routines

A technical routine involves performing predetermined elements that must be executed in a specific order.

The free routine has no requirements so the swimmers can be ‘free’ in how creative they get with the movements and their choreography.

Judges, who use strict guidelines to score the performances.


As well as technical and free routines, there are competitions called ‘figures’ for junior swimmers where they perform set movements to the judges. There is no music and this is simply a case of how well the individual performs the move.


One of the unique and most recognisable things about synchronised swimming is the athletes’ costumes, make-up and presentation.

Synchro swimmers will often wear elaborate costumes which, while they do not count towards any of the scoring, should complement the music selection and be in good moral taste.

Presentation marks are affected by swimmers’ facial expressions in the water so they will wear waterproof make-up to ensure their features can be seen clearly throughout, and gelatin in their hair to ensure it stays slicked back and out of the way!


Another distinctive aspect of synchro is the deck work.


Swimmers have ten seconds on poolside before they enter the water and while their walk on to the pool and the position they take do not count towards a score, they do set the tone for the routine and judges will already be forming their impression from it.

Athletes aren’t allowed to wear goggles – this would mask their facial expressions further – but they are permitted nose clips to aid them with the underwater aspects of the routine.

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