Synchronized Swimming Information


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dotIf you love to swim but hate all that time training alone, maybe you should consider synchronized swimming.

dotIt's a sport that combines the athletic ability of a long-distance runner with the creative expression of an ice skater -- and it's a lot more fun than swimming alone.

dotSynchronized swimming teams are popping up all over North America. There are more than 35 colleges that have teams so you can stay active and study at the same time.

It's a lot harder than it looks. It takes a lot of concentration, muscle tone, strength and stamina. Many swimmers also train with weights and aerobics to keep fit for the sport.

A team is made up of eight swimmers, but there are also competitions for solo and duet performances.

dotThe sport is almost all female. There are a few men in the sport, but the rules of many competitions say that men are not allowed. Men may not compete in the Olympics, but they can compete at the Goodwill Games.

dotA routine is a series of movements performed in harmony with the others on the team. Body lines must match as the swimmers do lifts, spins and poses.

A routine lasts from 3.5 to five minutes and a good portion of this is done underwater. During a routine, a swimmer may not touch the bottom or sides of the pool.

Scoring in competition is similar to the scoring for figure skating and gymnastics. Teams are given points for level of difficulty, how well the swimmers match each other, amount of body weight extended above the water and control.

Teams also receive points for artistic impression, which includes their use of patterns and rhythms to interpret the music and involve the audience.

dotEiffel Tower, flamingo, a catalina and a knight are just some of the positions used in a routine. Each one has an exact standard for the placement of the legs, arms, torso and head, and many of them are done upside down in the water.

dotIt may look funny, but the nose clip is the most important piece of equipment for a synchronized swimmer. The clip prevents water from entering the nose when the swimmer is performing upside down movements.

Swimmers often carry an extra clip in their suit in case they lose the one they are wearing during the routine.

Usually, a swimmer's hair looks slick thanks to gelatin, which is used to keep the hair in place while a swimmer is moving in the pool.

dotA good part of the competition is entertaining the audience, so teams usually wear bright, sequinned costumes and a good deal of make-up to show off their happy smiles. It's hard work, but the point is to make it look easy.

dotSynchronized swimmers have several career options after college. Many go on to star in water shows that are produced in theme parks across the country.

Swimmers can also have a career coaching teams, or teaching swimming classes for local schools and recreation departments.

Synchronized swimming teams have been featured in music videos, commercials and print ads for magazines. Doing commercial work is good money and it's also very exciting.

Getting Started

dotOnly a small portion of synchronized swimmers follow the "Olympic track" -- training and competing to reach the Olympic level. Most of the swimmers involved are on the "recreation track" -- they swim and compete for fun.

Swimmers start as young as six years of age, and compete throughout their years in college. Most national-level competitors are in their early 20s, but at the lower levels they have had swimmers up to 85 years old.

dotIf you can swim safely, being physically disabled shouldn't prevent you from joining a team. You need the ability to see the other swimmers, and the muscle strength to stay afloat and perform the moves. Even if you're not strong enough to compete, a recreational class could be just the thing.

Most competitions run from late winter to early summer, but swimmers train all year long. Swimmers who compete often train up to 20 or 30 hours a week, but six to 10 hours is a good number if you're just swimming for fun.

Check the Web or call your local community center to see if there is a team in your area. Many groups offer summer camp lessons for those who would like to try out the sport. Also, check the swim clubs in your area to see if they offer synchronized swimming.

dotIf you want to compete, you'll have to invest some money as well as time. You will be required to join an association and pay dues to your club. Dues may run as low as $20 a month, but they can be a lot higher depending on your area.

You will also be expected to purchase your costume ($50 to $200) and pay travel expenses. Many clubs run fund-raisers and weekly bingo games to help pay the costs of the pool and travel for the swimmers.

At a recreation level, expect to pay around $200 a year. The costs rise dramatically for competitive swimmers and many have local sponsors to help with the costs.

Links

Synchronized Swimming U.S.A.
The home of synchronized swimming in the U.S.

Synchronized Swimming Programs
Get info on various colleges

Synchronized Swimming History
Get the background on the sport