Swim England Artistic Swimming

The home of artistic swimming in England

New rule changes ‘most significant in artistic swimming’s history’

Updated artistic swimming rules coming into force next year are ‘the most significant’ in the sport’s history and will help make it ‘more objective’.

International governing body FINA has ratified a set of changes that will ‘simplify the process, define roles and divide tasks’.

There will be two judging panels in place – elements and artistic impression – while a new coach card will be introduced which will indicate all elements of routines in order of preference in advance of the competition.

Technology will also play a key role to ‘obtain objective and detailed measurement’ while athletes and coaches will ‘make strategic decisions’ about the composition of their routines.

Details of the new regulations were presented to coaches and officials at the recent Swim England Artistic Swimming Pathway Coach and Judges Conference 2022.

The changes come into effect for international competition for the 2023 season.

There will be a phased approach for clubs throughout next year before the rules are fully implemented from January 2024.

More objective

The first change for clubs will see the new FINA elements and figures incorporated into the national grading and competitive system from the beginning of next year.

Swim England will be providing clubs and judges with all the necessary guidance and documents in due course.

These will include judging and coaching upskill CPDs plus technical controller training courses being held.

Karen Thorpe, Swim England artistic swimming manager, said the primary goal of the updates are to ensure as much neutrality as possible in their judged sport.

She added: “Artistic swimming is undergoing the most significant changes in its history after FINA approved sweeping changes to the way the sport is coached, judged and scored.

“There are a lot of changes – but fundamentally, the judging system is going to change to make it more objective.”

Reflecting on what this means for the British duet and team ahead of the 2023 season, Karen said: “Obviously we are a subjective sport, and sometimes it’s difficult even for us to understand why some countries are scored better than others.

What we need to do

“You cannot 100 per cent eliminate the biased nature – but they have gone some way now to really making it more objective, so they can compare apples with apples, that’s how they put it. 

“What that means for us and for the coaches is that we have prescriptive areas that we need to work on, and those areas have been categorised into levels.

“So it’s quite clear what we need to do to achieve a certain score. 

“The difficulty is that if we don’t do what we say we’re going to do, then we’ll lose quite a lot of marks on that, so it’s really key that we are very consistent in our practice, to make sure everyone hits exactly the right moves at the right times in competition to not lose marks.

“It’s challenging right now because we need to get our routines choreographed, and we have to start thinking about building the choreography and the structure of the routines in a completely different way. 

“Once we’ve done that, we have to really focus on the consistency of the training to make sure that if we are doing four rotations, everyone is doing four rotations at exactly the same time and hitting it at exactly the same level.”

To view the Swim England transition plan to the new FINA rules, please click here.