Swim England Artistic Swimming

The home of artistic swimming in England

Artistic Swimming Free Routines

Artistic swimming free routines are a performed at nearly all synchro competitions.

In domestic competitions, free routines are introduced at Level 3 events, while they are held at all international competitions, right up to the Olympic Games.

Unlike technical routines, artistic swimming free routines have no required elements to perform, meaning there is a much greater emphasis on the creativity of choreography and movement.

Click play on the video below to see Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe’s gold medal-winning free routine from the 2016 ASA National Age Group Championships.

What are the rules of artistic swimming free routines?

While there are no restrictions on choreography, there are rules over the timing of artistic swimming free routines.

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

  • Solos: 2 minutes 30 seconds
  • Duets: 3 minutes
  • Teams: 4 minutes

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

The timings for age group free routines differ slightly.

U12 competitions allow for 2 minutes for solos, 2 minutes 30 seconds for duets and 3 minutes for teams.

Free routines for 13-15 yrs age groups allow for 2 minutes 15 seconds for solos, 2 minutes 45 seconds for duets and 3 minutes 30 seconds for teams.

How are artistic swimming free routines scored?

Free 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 the movements and the synchronisation of the swimmers both to the music and to their teammates.
  2. Artistic Impression – this is the most important aspect of the routine. Scores are given based on the choreography of the free routine, the musical interpretation and the presentation of the routine.
  3. Difficulty – the final category is simply a score for the difficulty of the elements and sychronisation of the routine.

To calculate the score for the routine, 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 (for execution and difficulty) or four (for artistic impression).

These three totals are then combined for the swimmers’ routine score.