Here's a quick introduction to the sport of synchronised swimming. Synchronised swimming is an artistic sport that boasts many health and fitness attributes, boosting flexibility and agility as well as key leg muscles.
The female-only sport of synchronised swimming appeared on the Olympic schedule as a full medal sport in Los Angeles in 1984, where it has been present, in one form or another, ever since.
When it first burst onto the Olympic scene, many people questioned its right to a place in the Games, and focused purely on the almost comical expressions portrayed by synchronised swimmers. But today, synchronised swimming is a real draw and is regularly one of the first events in the Olympic programme to sell out.
You may look at synchronised swimming as an almost effortless event, and have a sense that ‘anybody can do that’, but there is a lot more to the sport than you may think.
Competitors require a host of attributes including strength, stamina, flexibility, grace and artistry, and on top of all that — superb breath control.
Tests have shown that synchronised swimmers rank second only to long distance runners in terms of aerobic capacity, and second to gymnasts in terms of flexibility. Much work is put into the sport aside from the fitness element, with swimmers working on the set body positions, transition movements and synchronisation — all of which form the basis of competition.
The origins of the sport date back to 1924, when a group of Canadian women, led by water polo player and diver, Margaret Seller, developed what they called ‘ornamental swimming’ from lifesaving and swimming techniques. Within a year, rules were established and the first competitions were organised.
Synchronised swimming was largely brought to mainstream public attention by the ‘aqua musicals’ of the 1950s involving American film star Esther Williams, who performed water ballet in glorious technicolour. Today, synchronised swimming events in the Olympics are duet (two people) or team events (involving eight people).
Health and fitness benefits of synchronised swimming include:
- Boosts leg muscles and upper body strength.
- Develops the body's cardiovascular system.
- Improves balance, posture and mental concentration.
- Develops agility and flexibility.
How to get started in synchronised swimming
If want to get involved in this sport, then you need to be a strong swimmer and already be completely at home in the water.
In order to reach a high standard, synchronised swimmers will likely train with the normal speed swimmers working on building fitness and stamina, as well as having separate sessions which are devoted to working on the set body positions, transition movements, and synchronisation with fellow team members.
Unlike most sports, it’s quite difficult to get acquire an entry level position as it isn’t a sport for everyone. Your best chance at getting into synchronised swimming would either be Googling any local swim teams that welcome newcomers, or by contacting local swimming associations that can point you in the right direction.