A Quick History of Synchronized Swimming
Founded in the early 1900s, synchronized swimming requires a combination of strength, agility, grace, musical interpretation, athletic stamina, as well as dramatic flair. Synchronized swimming, or “synchro,” was added to the Olympic Games in 1984, where the United States proceeded to win the first solo and duet Olympic gold medals.
Internationally, synchronized swimming currently recognizes the solo, duet, and team (eight swimmers) events. Competitive rules and judging mimic that of figure skating and gymnastics, with points being awarded for artistic impression, difficulty of routine, and synchronization.
Synchro has predominantly been considered a women’s sport, with the Summer Olympics only featuring women’s events. More recently in the history of synchro, men are allowed to compete in both national and international competitions.
For more information on the history and foundations of synchronized swimming, please visit Team USA Synchro.
What is Synchronized Swimming?
Synchronized swimming has advanced far beyond its early beginnings of “water ballet” as displayed by Esther Willams. Today’s athletes require the grace and artistry of a ballerina, the strength and flexibility of a gymnast, the advanced water skills of a speed swimmer, and the endurance and stamina of a long distance runner. Combine these aspects with exceptional breath control and never touching the bottom of the pool and you have present day synchronized swimming. Together in teams, duets, or as a single swimmer, athletes perform choreographed routines set to music that demonstrate their strength, flexibility, aerobic endurance and synchronization.
Why should I join synchro?
As one of the most unique sports available, it truly is a blend of swimming, gymnastics, and dance. It offers the perfect balance between athleticism and creative expression. Through synchro, young women and men develop not only athleticism, but also learn discipline, self-motivation, and teamwork. Synchronized swimming is a challenging and physically demanding sport. The ability to translate verbal instruction into graceful movement develops critical thinking skills. Our athletes gain confidence, discipline and social skills, characteristics that they benefit from throughout their lives.
It takes years and dedication to produce a world-class synchronized swimmer, but swimmers at any level and any age can enjoy synchronized swimming.
Can synchronized swimmers touch the bottom of the pool?
Synchronized swimmers do not touch the bottom of the pool during a routine. It is against the rules, and a two-point deduction will be given . The water is a minimum of nine feet deep. The goal of the swimmers is to create the illusion of standing on their feet or hands.
Can the swimmers hear the music under water?
Yes, synchronized swimmers can hear the music underwater. The sound is supplied via underwater speakers.
What’s in their hair for competitions?
To ensure their hair does not move during their dramatic routines, swimmers apply warm KNOX Gelatin to their hair. Once the KNOX dries, it forms a shell around the hair and is impervious to water. It takes a very HOT shower and many applications of shampoo & conditioner to remove it.
How many hours per week do synchro swimmers train, and how do they train?
This is dependent on the age and level of the swimmer. While swimmers spend many hours in the pool, we also spend time out of the water doing strength training, stretching, and land drilling (practicing routines out of the pool).
Why do athletes wear makeup and sequined swimsuits for competition?
Currently a controversial topic in the synchro world, synchronized swimming is considered an artistic sport, like figure skating. Sequined suits are meant to enhance the performance and match the music and/or theme. 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.