Swim England Artistic Swimming

The home of artistic swimming in England

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An introduction to artistic swimming

So, you are seeking an introduction to artistic swimming. Well, can you imagine running for up to five minutes while performing acrobatics, holding your breath, looking graceful, and having to keep in time to the music? No? That’s artistic swimming!

Artistic swimming routines are essentially athletic movements performed in water and choreographed to music.

It is an incredibly strenuous and skillful sport. In fact, a test on all the Olympic sports before the London 2012 Olympic Games found artistic swimmers ranked second to long distance runners in aerobic capacity!

Artistic swimmers need strength to perform twists and lifts and can hold their breath underwater for around a minute.

They also need rhythm and flair to synchronise and interpret the music, which they listen to through underwater speakers.

Introduction to Artistic Swimming Rules

While there are a range of rules and penalties for specific routines, the basic rules of artistic swimming are displayed below.

  • No Touching The Bottom
    One of the things which makes the lifts all the more impressive is that artistic swimmers are not allowed to touch the bottom of the pool at any point during their routines.
  • No Bling
    Presentation is a unique and important part of artistic swimming but there are certain restrictions on what swimmers can wear. For example, artistic swimmers are not permitted jewellery, theatrical make-up, or inappropriate costumes.
  • No Goggles
    Another restriction during artistic swimming routines is goggles. However, swimmers in figures competitions are permitted to wear them.
  • Team Means Team
    Teams normally contain eight swimmers, but the minimum number for a team is four. Teams lose marks for every swimmer they have under the full complement because it is easier to synchronise the fewer people there are in a routine.
  • Stick To The Schedule
    Routines can be anything from two and a half minutes to five minutes long, depending on whether they are performed alone or as part of a team. However, swimmers are penalised if they take 15 seconds fewer or longer than the specified time.

Introduction to Artistic Swimming Routines

To learn about artistic swimming is to know there are four main categories of competition:

  • Solos – where an individual swimmer will synchronise with the music.
  • Duets – where a swimmer co-ordinates with their partner and in time to the music.
  • Teams – where the swimmer co-ordinates with up to seven other athletes and in time to the music.
  • Combination – a team routine where up to ten swimmers perform in one continuous routine but during the routine there will be segments where different numbers of swimmers will perform.

In most senior competitions, swimmers perform two routines for the judges, one technical and one free.

The technical routine involves performing predetermined elements that must be executed in a specific order. The free routine has no requirements so the swimmers can be ‘free’ in how creative they get with the movements and their choreography.

The routines are performed in front of sets of judges, who use strict guidelines to score the performances.

As well as technical and free routines, there are competitions called ‘figures’ for junior swimmers where they perform set movements to the judges. There is no music and this is simply a case of how well the individual performs various synchro moves.