Synchronized Swimming

What’s the deal?

Take the women’s gymnastics floor competition and put it in the water. Synchronized swimmers do choreographed routines set to music, they have to be in sync with each other to make it work–and they’re not allowed to touch the bottom of the pool at any point in the routine. Swimmers perform two routines, the technical and the free. Routines for duets can be 2:20 to 3:00 (that’s minutes), and teams go for 2:50 to 4:00. Judges look for execution, difficulty and artistic impression.

Who’s competing?

Sorry men, this one’s just for the ladies. Women compete in pairs and teams of eight.

Why should I watch?

Sparkly swimsuits (no bikinis!), slicked back hair, and makeup that defies water. That’s just for starters. These women have the strength to tread water for up to four minutes, do flips and spins and throw their teammates in the air, and they have to be able to hold their breath for a good chunk of their routine because they’re doing a good chunk of their moves upside down. Yeah, it’s pretty mesmerizing.

Potential drinking game:

Anyone touches the bottom of the pool, drink.

The perfect snack:



FINA (Féderation Internationale de Natation) is the global governing body for the sport, and you can find basic sport information at its site. Check your local NOC for more info (in the US, that’s USA Synchro).

You can’t have any winners in this sport without judges. Learn the rules at FINA’s site, but you’ll find out how to get involved from either your national organization or a more local organization. USA Synchro has some info about judges’ tests on its site.

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