Frequently Asked Questions


Q:  What is synchronized swimming?

A: The sport of synchronized swimming has come a long way since its early beginnings as "water ballet" in Esther Williams’ movies. Today’s synchronized swimmer must have the grace of a ballerina, the strength and flexibility of a gymnast, the skills of a speed swimmer and water polo player, the lungs of a pearl diver, and the endurance and stamina of a long distance runner. Add to that the requirement for split-second timing and a dramatic flair for musical interpretation and choreography, and you have synchronized swimming!

Q:  Is synchronized swimming an Olympic sport?

A:  Synchronized swimming has been an Olympic event since 1984. The first Olympic competitions featured only the duet and solo events. In the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, the team event replaced the duet and solo competition and at the 2000 Olympics, synchronized swimming was represented with the duet and team events.

Q:  What are the different routines?

A: Synchronized swimmers compete in teams of up to eight, and in duets and solos.  Junior and age group level swimmers may also compete in trios.

Q:  What skills are required for synchronized swimming?:

A: Synchro is a sport requiring overall body strength and agility, grace and beauty, split-second timing, musical interpretation, and dramatic flair.  It is a unique sport in which power, strength, and technical skill are displayed in an artistically choreographed piece.

Q:  Can the swimmers hear the music under water?

A:  Yes, synchronized swimmers can hear the music underwater. The sound is supplied via underwater speakers.

Q:  Can synchronized swimmers touch the bottom of the pool?

A:  Synchronized swimmers do not touch the bottom of the pool during a routine. It is against the rules, and a deduction will be given if they do. The swimmers create the illusion of standing on their feet or hands because they are so proficient at the techniques.

Q:  Do synchronized swimmers keep their eyes open under water?

A:  Synchronized swimmers swim with their eyes open underwater. By seeing their teammates underwater, they make corrections to alignment and set-up for specific moves in their routine.  When spinning upside down in the water, synchronized swimmers spot the pool walls just like a figure skater, dancer or diver would to count their rotations.

Q:  How long can synchronized swimmers hold their breath?

A:  In a five-minute routine, a synchronized swimmer may spend up to a minute underwater without coming up for air. At the same time, they are using their arms and legs to suspend themselves in the water. It's similar to running underwater while holding your breath at the same time. The elite-level synchronized swimmer can swim up to 75 meters underwater without coming up for air.

Q:  Do synchronized swimmers use any special equipment when they are performing?

A:  The most important piece of equipment for synchronized swimming is the nose clip. Although it may seem unusual, the nose clip is vital in importance because it prevents water from entering the nasal cavity during the upside-down movements and also allows the swimmer to stay underwater for longer lengths of time. Most synchronized swimmers carry an extra nose clip in their suit in case the one they are wearing gets knocked off during a routine.

Q:  How many hours per week do synchronized swimmers train, and how do they train?

A:  Desert Dolphin swimmers practice between four and 14 hours per week, depending on the age and competition level of the swimmer.  While much of this time is spent in the pool, we also spend time out of the water doing strength training, stretching, and land drilling (practicing routines out of the pool).  Olympic and National Team synchronized swimmers practice as much as eight hours a day, six days a week!  Approximately six hours are spent in the water and an additional two hours on land with cross training exercises such as lifting weights, biking, running or aerobics.

Q:  What is a lift?

A:  A lift in synchronized swimming is done by raising the body of one or more swimmers up to or above the water surface. Swimmers execute lifts with only their body strength and are not allowed to use the pool bottom.

Q:  How is synchronized swimming judged in competition?

A:  Most synchronized swimming competitions are comprised of two parts. First is the "Figure" competition where each swimmer performs a series of technical moves individually in front of a panel of judges without music. Then comes the "Routine" competition, where the swimmers perform a routine comprised of technical moves choreographed to music.  Swimmers are judged on technical merit and artistic impression. The technical merit score is based on execution, synchronization, and difficulty, and takes into account such factors as how high the swimmers can propel themselves out of the water and how well synchronized the swimmers are with each other and the music. The artistic impression score includes how well the choreography is matched to the music and the grace of the swimmers in the water. A percentage of the athlete's Figure score is combined with a percentage of the routine score to determine the final score awarded.

Q:  What is deckwork?

A:  Deckwork consists of the movements athletes perform on the deck once the music starts and before entering the water. Deckwork sets the mood of the routine, can only be 10 seconds in length, and does not factor into the final score.

Q:  What is the purpose of the glittered/sequined suits and makeup?

A:  Synchronized swimming is an artistic sport, like ice skating. Glittered or sequined suits are meant to enhance the performance. Makeup brings out the swimmer's features, and the smiles you might see on a swimmer's face are meant to deceive the audience into believing that the performance is easy.

Q:  "But it looks so easy", many people say – isn’t it?

A:   Making a routine look easy is an important part of the sport and is just one of the things that the judges look for in competition. To get a better appreciation for the demands of this sport–imagine a gymnast performing on the balance beam while holding her breath for up to half of her routine. Now throw in additional gymnasts performing the same routine concurrently and in complete synchronization!