Synchronised Swimming
What is Synchronised Swimming?

Synchronised swimming developed from water ballet. The best way to describe it is dancing in the water. Most figures (moves) are completed upside down. Only women compete in the sport. It is performed in solos, duets (pairs), trios (threes) or in a team.

It is performed as a routine to music and in separate figures (moves). Duet and Team are the only two events included in the Olympics.

The sport was first included at the Olympics in 1984. The USA, Canada and Russia have all won gold. Japan and France have won silver and bronze medals.

The best known piece of equipment used is the nose clip/plug. It is used to stop water from getting into the swimmer's nose. Other equipment includes microphones and underwater speakers. Swimmers need to hear the music while underwater.

Synchronised swimming is judged two ways; Technical Merit and Artistic Expression.
Technical Merit judges how well the swimmers dance and as a team. Artistic Expression judges the music and the dance moves chosen

Click here to see the rules for Synchronised Swimming

Synchronised Swimming History

Originally known as water ballet, synchronised swimming began in Canada in the 1920s. It spread to the United States in the early '30s. A display of it at the 1934 Chicago World's Fair was loved by the spectators.

Synchronised swimming became even more popular because of Esther Williams. She performed in many MGM "aqua musicals (movies where the actors sing)" in the 1940s and '50s.

Synchronised swimming was an exhibition sport at the Olympic Games from 1948 to 1968. There were no medals but was performed to see whether spectators would like it to be in the Olympics. It finally became sport with Olympic medals in Los Angeles in 1984.

By 1968 most states of Australia had people practising synchronised swimming. Recently Australia competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships in Barcelona. At the Commonwealth Games we won two bronze medals.

Female Olympic Events
  • Technical Routine - Solo
  • Technical Routine - Duet
  • Free Routine - Solo
  • Free Routine Duet
  • No Gold medals
  • 2 Silver medals
  • 5 Bronze medals
  • 7 Medals in all

Click here to see Commmonwealth Games medallists

Current and Recent Australian Synchronised Swimmers
  • Leonie Nichols
  • Amanda Laird
A synchronised swimmer needs to have
  • Have no fear of the water
  • Strength in the water
  • Upper and lower body strength
  • Good sense of balance
  • Good sense of rhythm
  • Flexibility
  • Background in dance/music
  • Background in another type of swimming
  • Patience and enthusiasm

The amount of training depends upon the age and level of the athlete. At a young age, synchronised swimmers train about 3 days a week for 2-3 hours a day. Elite athletes train up to 10 hours a day six days a week. The sport demands time therefore athletes must train their own bodies, as well as master a synchronized routine. This takes repetition to the highest degree. It took 9 months for our team to create and perfect our 2 Olympic routines in 1996. These days teams to train for a year or two together to prepare for the Olympics.

Twice a week the swimmers perform push-ups, squats and jumping exercises to build power for the water. The team also did dance twice a week to work on body movement, facial expressions, flexibility and gymnastics for flexibility. The swimmers worked with a mime once a week to help with their acting skills

Iron Status

Synchronised swimmers on weight loss diets are particularly at risk. When in heavy training iron levels should be checked regularly. Iron-rich foods such as lean red meat and breakfast cereals fortified with iron should be included regularly in the diet. Iron-rich plant foods such as wholegrain cereals, spinach and legumes should be combined with animal iron sources (e.g. wholegrain pasta with bolognese sauce) and vitamin C sources (e.g. glass of orange juice consumed with breakfast cereal) to improve iron absorption. A sports dietitian provides specific dietary help.

Immune Status

Synchronised Swimmers often worry about getting sick during periods of heavy training. To keep the swimmer from catching coughs and colds many nutritional supplements and strategies have been suggested. Currently the most important strategy emerging from
immune studies of athletes is to keep well fuelled during training sessions. Sports drink
during the workout and a recovery snack afterwards help to reduce the stress on the immune system.

Competition Nutrition

Synchronised Swimmers who undertake a long taper may need to reduce total energy intake to match their reduced workload; otherwise unwanted gains in body fat will occur. Between events and between heats and semi-finals/finals fluid levels and carbohydrate stores need to be replenished. When there is only a short interval between routines drink a carbohydrate-containing fluid such as sports drink, fruit juice or soft drink. Snacks such as yoghurt, fruit, cereal bars or sandwiches are suitable for longer gaps between routines, or for recovery at the end of a session. Most swimmers eat a high-carbohydrate lunch and have a nap between day heats and evening final sessions. On waking, a carbohydrate-rich snack is eaten before returning to the pool.

Find out more about starting synchronised swimming in:
References & Sources

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