Synchronised Swimming Terms Explained

Our synchronised swimming guide aims to help you stay afloat whilst learning some of the jargon.

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Rather like gymnastics, there are whole range of terms used in synchronised swimming, many of which apply to particular moves and are specific to the sport. There are also terms which you may recognise from other sports of a similar nature, such as diving or figure skating.

Artistic impression

This is one of the categories by which the event is judged — it is the overall effect and feel of a routine covering the three areas of choreography, interpretation of music and manner of presentation.

Back layout

A position in which the body is extended with heads, hips and ankles in line at the surface.

Ballet leg

A position in which one leg is extended perpendicular to the water surface — with the body flat on the surface. A ballet leg double would have both legs extended perpendicular to the water surface.


A quick head-first rise out of the water; the aim is to raise as much of the body above the surface as possible.

Cadence action

A sequence of identical movements performed one-by-one by all team members, individually and in rapid succession — almost like a domino effect.

Combined spin

A descending spin of 360 degrees or more, followed immediately by an equal ascending spin.

Continuous spin

A descending spin, with a rapid rotation through at least two complete revolutions of the body.


A position in which the body is extended upward and one leg is extended forward at a 90 degree angle.


Movements performed on the side of the pool prior to entering the water.


A move in which the swimmer, from a flat position on the surface, dives headfirst and swims down and under, re-emerging at the original location.


An event featuring two swimmers performing simultaneous movements together.


Rapid circular motion with the legs to support and propel the upper body while in an upright position, leaving the arms free.