Synchronized swimming 101: Basics - WSMV News 4

Synchronized swimming 101: Basics

Posted: Updated:

Originally called "water ballet," synchronized swimming made its first Olympic appearance at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Seemingly effortless, synchronized swimmers must exhibit strength, endurance, flexibility and breath control, all while keeping a smile on their faces. In 1984, synchronized swimming debuted solo and duet events, which were both dropped at the 1996 Games in Atlanta for a team event. The duet returned in Sydney 2000.

During routines, swimmers perform dance and acrobatic movements to music, and are not allowed to touch the bottom of the pool at any point. Wearing make-up on their faces and gelatin in their hair, they also use nose-clips to help them breathe. Special underwater speakers are used so the swimmers can keep count in their routine at all times.

Today, there are two events in synchronized swimming: duet and team, and both events include technical and free routines. Synchronized swimming is one of only two Olympic disciplines that are female-only; however, at the most recent World Championships in 2015, a mixed duet event was included in the program for male/ female pairs.

About 100 women will partake in the Olympic synchronized swimming competition: 95 athletes plus nine places allocated to the host country, Brazil.


Eight nations will compete in the team event at the 2016 Games. Team competition consists of eight athletes performing a technical routine together followed by a free routine. The scores from each routine are combined to determine the final rankings.


There will be 24 nations competing in the duet event at the Rio Olympics. Like the team event, duets must perform both a technical and free routine, however a preliminary round of both narrows the field to 12 duets. In the final round, athletes must perform their free routine again, the result of which will be combined with the score from the technical routine in the preliminary round to determine the duets' final ranking.

Technical Routine

The technical routine focuses on how accurately athletes execute certain elements of the sport.


A technical routine requires the execution of nine required elements within the time limit of 2 minutes, 50 seconds. Teams can perform to the music of their choice. The score from the technical routine accounts for 50 percent of the overall ranking.


In the first phase of the preliminary round, duets must execute eight required elements within the time limit of 2 minutes, 20 seconds. Duets can perform to the music of their choice. The score from the technical routine accounts for 50 percent of their preliminary score - and, if they advance, 50 percent of their final score.

Free Routine

The free routine highlights the artistic aspects of the sport, giving athletes the opportunity to take risks and be creative with compositions.


With a time limit of 4 minutes, teams can perform a composition of their choice. They are not restricted in terms of music, content or choreography. The free routine accounts for 50 percent of the final rankings.


With a time limit of 3 minutes, duets can perform any listed figures and/or strokes to the music of their choice. Duets generally present the same routine for the final as they do in the preliminary round.


Powered by Frankly
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2018, WSMV; Nashville, TN. (A Meredith Corporation Station) . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.