what is synchro?

"a mixture of a speed swimmer’s endurance, the leg strength of a water polo player, the form of a gymnast or diver, and the grace of a ballerina"

- Coach Candy

history

Artistic swimming, formerly known as synchronized swimming ("synchro"), is a unique sport in which power, strength and technical skill are presented as an artistically beautiful choreographed routine. Overall body strength and agility, grace and beauty, split-second timing, and musical interpretation are simultaneously blended together to create a fluid presentation. The competition rules and the manner of judging are similar those in figure skating and gymnastics.

The earliest documentation of artistic swimming goes back as far as ancient Rome.  Since its revival in the early 1900s, spectators have been awed by the grace and power of this exciting sport. The first U.S. National Championships were held in 1946. Artistic swimming became a part of the Pan American Games in 1955 and the World Aquatic Championships in 1973. In 1984, artistic swimming was finally added to the Olympic Games.  This event is expected to be a crowd favorite yet again at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

In July of 2017, FINA (International Swimming Federation) renamed synchronized swimming to its current official name: artistic swimming.

For more information about the United States National Teams and upcoming events and results, see the USA National Team page.

photo from the Olympic website

health benefits

Artistic swimming is a physically demanding sport that tests the athlete's aerobic and anaerobic endurance, strength, and flexibility.  It is also an extremely cerebral sport, requiring memorization of routines, a heightened kinesthetic awareness, and concentration.

The July 2012 edition of The Winged M (p. 68) cites a study by the Indiana University Department of Kinesiology that concluded:  "Synchro workouts rely on the brain's neuro-plasticity: its ability to change and adapt."  According to the research, synchro improves brain - neuron connectivity and helps preserve the reaction time between the brain and the muscles well into the adult senior years.

it only LOOKS easy

A creative, well-choreographed and precision-executed artistic swimming routine can astonish an audience, leaving viewers with a sense of wonder and admiration, but it is a far, far more difficult sport than many give it credit for.  In a five-minute routine for example, swimmers might spend up to one minute upside down under water while performing intricate leg maneuvers on the surface or launching teammates out of the water in moves called 'lifts.'  This has been described as akin to running full speed for 30 seconds without taking a breath.

Other tools swimmers use to adapt to the aquatic environment include the nose-clip (to keep water out of the nose) and Knox (gelatin to keep hair out of eyes). Swimmers also brave chemically treated water without the benefit of swim goggles during performances.  Additionally, at no time are swimmers allowed to touch the bottom of the pool: graceful lifts and acrobatic leaps are executed solely with pure body strength. Complex routines demand vigilant focus and attention, as split second timing is critical in pattern changes and cascading motifs.

Athleticism serves as the foundation for artistic swimming, but like its sister sports gymnastics and figure skating, it is also a visual art meant to captivate an audience. Sparkling suits and make-up enhance and project the swimmers’ interpretation of the music. Smiles and exaggerated facials lend to the illusion that the routines are easy, even while they are anything but.  At the elite level, artistic swimmers partake among the hardest of trainings and are of the most dedicated athletes of any sport. Brains, brawn, beauty.

artistic swimming - it only LOOKS easy