Competitive Synchronised Swimming
Image credit: Shaun Chiet/SportSG
Synchronised swimming takes its roots from water ballets of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Modern day synchronised swimming has evolved into a competitive sport where athletes can take part in the duet and team categories. Athletes will perform two routines for each category - the Technical Routine and the Free Routine.
Types of Routines
Technical Routine - Is a routine performed on the basis of predetermined elements and should be performed in a specific order.
Free Routine - Is a routine not based on any predetermined elements. This allows swimmers to be creative and innovative in exhibiting their choreography skills.
Technical and free routines are required for athletes participating in competitions above the junior level. The structure of each competition, time limits and routine types will depend on the level of competition and the governing body running the competition. Large or global competitions will usually follow the standards set by the Fédération Internationale de Natation de Amateur (FINA).
Types of Competitions
Olympic Games, World Championships and Opens - Duet and team are the only two events allowed in the Olympics. The World Championships and Opens include solo, duet, team and combination events.
Junior Meets - At the junior level, swimmers only need to perform the free and figures routines. Figures routines are performed without music, where athletes are scored on how well they are able to execute the chosen movements. Junior meets include solo, duet, trio, team and combination events.
Novice, Intermediate & Age Group - These three levels of participants will perform the figures instead of the technical routine and each group will have their own level of difficulty. There are also no limits on choreography in the free routines of the solo, duet, trio and team events.
Rules and Regulations of Major Competitions
- Duet Events require two swimmers and one alternate swimmer. Technical routines for this event have to work within a time limit of 2:20 minutes (+ or -15 seconds). Free routines are bounded by a time limit of 3:30 minutes (+ or - 15 seconds).
- Team Events require eight swimmers and one alternate swimmer. Technical routines for this event have to be completed within 2:50 minutes (+ or -15 seconds). Free routines are bounded by time limit of 4:00 minutes (+ or -15 seconds). A minimum of four swimmers are required to participate in this event, and the team will lose marks for every swimmer under the full complement of eight.
- A judging panel of ten judges will score each event. Five judges will score the technical merit of each routine by looking at the execution of strokes, propulsion techniques, transitions and precision of patterns. They will also look at the synchronization of the swimmers with the music. Lastly, they will look at the difficulty of the movements with consideration to airborne time, complexity and strength of movements.
- The other five judges will score the artistic impression. They will look at the choreography, variety of movements, transitions, fluidity and pool usage. Judges will also look at music interpretation - how swimmers use movements to interpret the mood and feeling of the music. Lastly, the poise of the swimmers and their ability to communicate the choreography is critiqued.
- Points are awarded on a scale of 0.0 - 10.0 (with increments of tenths). The highest and lowest of the scores awarded are cancelled and the remaining scores averaged. The total for Technical Merit total is multiplied by six and the Artistic Impression score by four. The total of these two equals the routine score.
- Penalties may be administered for any infractions. One-point penalties include exceeding the time limit of 10 seconds for deck movements or deviating from the specified time limit. Two-Point penalties include swimmers making deliberate use of the pool bottom or using the pool bottom to assist another swimmer. Half-Point penalties include the omission of a required element from the Technical Routine.
- The scores for both the technical and free routines are added together and the solo swimmer or team with the highest scores wins the gold, followed by silver, and then the bronze.
Depending on the level of competition, rules and regulations will vary. It is up to the organising committee of each competition to come up with a set of rules and regulations unique to the level of competition.
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