Artistic swimming 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 routine. The competitive rules and manner of judging in artistic swimming are similar to its counterparts: figure skating and gymnastics.
There are five routine events: solo, duet, team (4–8 swimmers), combination (4–10 swimmers), and acrobatics (8-10 swimmers). Intermediates and novices may also compete in the trio event. In addition to these routine events, each competitor must compete in either a figure competition or a technical routine competition which counts as half of the final event score. Each figure is a sequence of controlled, technical moves and is performed individually in a slow and controlled manner without music in front of a panel of judges. The scores earned in the figure event are added to those of the routine competition to determine each event’s winners. Technical Routines are performed instead of figures for junior and senior swimmers. A technical routine is like a free routine except the swimmers are required to perform 5 elements during the routine. Technical routines don't have as much creative freedom as free routines because swimmers must be synchronized most of the time and must be facing the same direction except during underwater transitions.
To perform a strenuous routine while maintaining an effortless appearance is a very difficult and important quality that is expected by the judges. To understand the physical demands and endurance needed to perform the 3 1/2 to 5 minute routines, consider running while holding your breath for lengths of time up to 30 seconds. The routines demonstrate what has made “synchro” so popular with audiences. Much of the appeal is found in the use of music to demonstrate the athlete’s skills, technique and creativity. Routines are enhanced by the use of original and expressive movements, patterns, rhythms and audience contact.
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