Synchronised Swimming Technical Routines

Synchronised swimming technical routines are a core element of most senior synchro competitions.

The technical routine involves performing five predetermined elements, executed in a specific order.

Technical routines are not commonly held for junior or age group events. Instead, figures competitions are held to test swimmers’ execution of certain synchronised swimming moves.

In domestic competitions, synchronised swimming technical routines are introduced at Level 3 events, while they are held at all international competitions, including the Olympic Games.

What are the rules of synchronised swimming technical routines?

Swimmers must perform the five required elements written in the FINA Synchronised Swimming Appendices. These required elements are selected every four years.

Duet technical routines must also contain a lift or throw, placed anywhere in the routine.

Meanwhile, team technical routines must contain a head first throw and a cadence action (a movement performed in sequence by each member of the team). These can be placed anywhere in the routine.

As well as the required elements, synchronised swimming technical routines are subject to time restrictions.

In senior competitions, swimmers are allowed the following amount of time, plus or minus 15 seconds:

  • Solos: 2 minutes
  • Duets: 2 minutes 20 seconds
  • Teams: 2 minutes 50 seconds

If starting from pool deck, free routines can take no longer than 10 seconds before all swimmers are in the water.

How are synchronised swimming technical routines scored?

Technical routines are judged by three panels of five judges, each giving a score out of 10 for one of three categories.

  1. Execution – this is based on the execution of of movement – with the exception of the required elements – and the synchronisation of the swimmers both to the music and to their teammates.
  2. Impression – the impression judges give a score based on four factors. These are the difficulty of the routine’s movements (not including the required elements), the choreography of the routine, the musical interpretation and the presentation of the routine.
  3. Elements – the elements score is based solely on the performance of the five required elements in the routine. Each judge gives a score out of 10 for each element.

To calculate scores for execution and impression, the lowest and highest score for each category are discarded.

An average is then calculated from the remaining three scores. These averages are multiplied by three to produce overall scores for execution and impression.

The elements score is calculated slightly differently. Individual element scores are calculated by discarding the highest and lowest score, calculating an average of the remaining three scores, then multiplying that number by the degree of difficulty of the element.

The sum of these five element scores is then divided by the sum of the degrees of difficulty. This number is multiplied by 4 to produce the final elements score.

The score of the routine is the sum of the execution, impression and elements scores.